The Malta Independent 18 June 2024, Tuesday
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Updated (4) - 10 arrested in connection with Daphne murder; massive operation in Marsa

Monday, 4 December 2017, 09:46 Last update: about 8 years ago

Ten people have been arrested in connection with the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said today.

The Prime Minister initially mentioned eight arrests in a press briefing at Castille, but later tweeted that the number of perople arrested had risen to 10.

The police will be questioning the persons who were arrested this morning in Marsa, Zebbug and Bugibba. All of them are Maltese, and some of them were known to the police, and their arrests were made on the grounds of a “reasonable suspicion” that they were involved in the 16 October car bomb which killed the journalist, the PM said.

They were arrested in an operation involving the secret services, the police and the Armed Forces of Malta, Muscat said. The operation has been planned for a few days and the investigators thought it fit to conduct it this morning.

He said that the police have 48 hours to interrogate the suspects and decide whether to charge them in court.

The PM said that he is unable to provide more information at this stage, and stopped short of giving more details so as not to prejudice the investigation.

“As much as I feel that the general public should be kept informed,” PM Muscat said that he will not divulge details that could be used as a point of defence as had happened in the case involving the arraignment of two members of the judiciary. 

He said that in the case that the police will decide to prosecute against the people involved, they will be giving an adequate briefing.

While the PM was speaking, a huge police and army operation was still underway at Lighters Wharf (Moll tal-Braken in Marsa). The area was sealed off by members of the police SWAT team and the Armed Forces of Malta’s Special Operations Unit.  

Sources said they saw suspects being thrown to the ground by the heavily armed officers. This newspaper also witnessed one suspect being led away by two officers. 

Helicopters, sniffer dogs and an AFM patrol boat were involved in the operation. Residents were told to stay inside.

In a statement, the Nationalist Party said that it is closely following developments, thanking all those who are involved in the operation. It said that at this stage it preferred not to comment any further.

Marsa from The Malta Independent on Vimeo.

This is the full briefing given by the Prime Minister this morning:

I have been briefed about a security operation that took place this morning, about which I feel that it is in the National interest that I should inform the public.

The operation was carried out by the Police Corps, the Armed Forces of Malta and our Security Services, and was the result of investigations that were carried out over the past few weeks.

During this operation, 8 persons were arrested as persons in respect of whom a reasonable suspicion exists in connection with involvement in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

As you are aware, according with this country’s laws, the Police now have 48 hours to question the suspects and to decide on whether to prosecute in Court.

As much as I feel that the general public should be kept informed of this development, I am also aware that in our country’s history there is at least one case, related to an anti-bribery operation concerning former members of the judiciary, where a statement by the then Prime Minister was used as a point of defence by the accused, who successfully claimed that the statement undermined the legal presumption of innocence in the case.

Therefore, I consulted the Attorney General with a view to ensuring that my statement today   would achieve the necessary balance between the right and interest of the public to receive information on one hand, and the need to respect the presumption of innocence on the other, in such a manner as to avoid that whoever is potentially guilty would get off the hook on a legal technicality.

I urge the media to understand this stand.

I am informed that in the case of an eventual prosecution, the forces of law and order will give an adequate briefing.  Moreover, during the committal proceedings (the compilation of evidence) , which I expect to be carried out in an efficient  manner befitting  of such a serious case, all the relevant information will be made public, including the input of the FBI, Europol, the National Bureau of Investigation of Finland and Maltese investigators.

I would like to emphasise   the commitment of the State and my own personal commitment to bringing the persons who may have commissioned or executed this crime to justice.

Whilst I am available to answer your questions, I ask you to understand that I will not undermine the points of principle which I have explained.

I would like to conclude by thanking the security forces and renewing my support to their work.

As I stated as soon as I learnt about this barbaric act, we will leave no stone unturned to get this case solved.  I am committed to do so more than ever.

PM explains why government held a press conference at beginning of 48 hours

In a ministerial statement in Parliament, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that after asking the police regarding how the family were informed, “it was the magistrate, who has the family’s trust, that was to give this kind of information to the family at the moment he feels opportune.”

Responding to brief questions in Parliament following a three-minute ministerial statement, Muscat pledged that after the process ends, he will be the first to ensure all information that he would be at liberty to deliver without prejudicing the case.

He stressed the importance of catching the persons who masterminded the murder, as well as those who carried it out.

PN Leader Adrian Delia had asked whether the police commissioner was still involved in the case, given that it was the Prime Minister who gave a press conference and not him. Muscat said that the police will give information after their interrogations conclude, and they can affirm or not that these persons, or some of them would be arraigned.

He said government felt it needed to hold the press conference this morning as it would have been impossible to hide the operations, which involved land, air and sea units, and 48 hours of no comments would have led to much speculation. He said he had sought the Attorney General’s advice to see what he cold say without prejudicing the case. He says he carries the responsibility to try and find the balance between the presumption of innocence and the public interest.

Photos and video by Baskal Mallia

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