The Malta Independent 21 January 2019, Monday

Alfred Degiorgio cleared of involvement in an armed holdup in the year 2000

Friday, 14 December 2018, 14:11 Last update: about 2 months ago

One of the men suspected of involvement in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia has been cleared of involvement in an armed holdup on a cash van in the year 2000.

Alfred Degiorgio had been charged, alongside Mario Cutajar and Emanuel Formosa, with involvement in the violent robbery of a Group 4 cash van on October 26, 2000 in Canon Road, St Venera in which almost a million maltese liri had been stolen.

Formosa, the Group 4 employee who had been driving the van when the holdup took place, had been cleared of liability by a Magistrates' Court last year.

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The cash had been found at a house belonging to the other co-accused, Mario Cutajar, stuffed into plastic bags and hidden under a mattress. Cutajar had been convicted solely of handling stolen property and was handed a suspended sentence.

Alfred Degiorgio, who had been implicated by the other co-accused in their police statements, was also found guilty of having handled stolen property on the strength of a solitary fingerprint on one of the cash-filled bags.

He had filed an appeal after being handed a two-year jail term suspended for four years.

In its judgment the Court of Criminal Appeal, presided over by Madam Justice Edwina Grima, went over the voluminous records of the case with a fine toothed comb. The judge began by highlighting a procedural defect which appeared to have escaped the first court as well as the parties.

In the original charges, the prosecution had issued the charge of handling stolen property solely against Cutajar. However, when remitting the records back to the court, the AG had attributed this offence to all three co-accused.

Therefore, Degiorgio could never have been found guilty of the offence as he had not been originally prosecuted for it and there had been no compilation of evidence in its regard, the court ruled.

With regards to the rest of the evidence, Madam Justice Grima observed that the prosecution's case rested upon a fingerprint lifted from a red and white plastic bag containing some of the cash allegedly stolen in the holdup, which matched a finger on Degiorgio's left hand.

There had been no other evidence linking him to the crime, noted the Court, observing that the first court had concluded that the accused must have handled the bag at some point.

However, this did not mean that the accused had touched the cash, said the judge, adding that it had not been proven that Degiorgio had touched the bag before or after the robbery.

The court said that the case was based upon a series of suppositions tied to the presence of the fingerprint, which however, were "mere conjectures which fell short, by far, of the moral certainty required by law to establish guilt."

Degiorgio was cleared of criminal responsibility.

Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi and Rene Darmanin were defence counsel.


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