The Malta Independent 25 March 2019, Monday

Degiorgios make new request for bail, demand compensation for human rights breach

Thursday, 3 January 2019, 13:00 Last update: about 4 months ago

Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio, who stand charged, together with Vince Muscat, of the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia have once again asked to be released on bail and be electronically tagged, demanding compensation for what they say is a breach of their human rights.

The men have been under arrest since December 2017, having been charged with the murder and separate money laundering charges. Bail has been requested several times but the courts have consistently rejected their applications.

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In a Constitutional application to the First Hall of the Civil Court filed on Thursday, the Degiorgio brothers explain that they had been granted bail under strict conditions by the court of magistrates this had been revoked following an appeal by the Attorney General.

Lawyer William Cuschieri, who signed the application, said that it was clear that the criminal courts would never grant the men bail, “after expressing their opinion entirely adversely.”

This, said the lawyer, went against the principles endorsed by the Constitutional and European courts on the topic of bail.

The Maltese State was failing the men by not introducing a system of electronic tagging for persons on bail. The refusals of bail constituted a breach of Article 5(3) of the European Convention on Human Rights, they said.

In addition to this, the law grants the AG the faculty of appealing decisions on bail by the Courts of Magistrates, but a person accused cannot. The only thing an accused person can do in that situation is to file an application to the Criminal Court, but this is not a right of appeal. 
After their applications to the Criminal Court were rejected, they had no further means of obtaining bail, as the Criminal Court’s decision is not subject to scrutiny, Cuschieri claimed.

This breached the principle of equality of arms, right to a fair hearing and right to protection from arbitrary arrest, said the lawyer, as well as their right to freedom from discrimination.

The men asked the court to declare a breach of their human rights, grant them bail and liquidate compensation for the damages they have suffered.

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