The Malta Independent 21 October 2019, Monday

Caruana Galizia murder case: FBI experts travel to Malta for nothing

Wednesday, 22 May 2019, 17:55 Last update: about 6 months ago

Experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that came to Malta to testify in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder cases ended up standing in the corridors of the law courts and will return to their country without giving evidence.

The experts were due to testify under cross-examination on Wednesday but the defence lawyers withdrew their original request to cross-examine them.

The court was told that the defence withdrew its request two days ago, by which point, the necessary travel arrangements had already been made. The experts will fly back to the US on Thursday.

Brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, together with Vincent Muscat, stand accused with the journalist’s murder, which took place on 16 October 2017.

Presiding magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit said on Wednesday that she could not force any party to cross examine witnesses. 

She gave the defence lawyers five days to decide whether they wanted to cross examine the experts. A new court date was set for 6 June.  It is understood that the FBI experts would be asked to travel back to Malta should the defence change its mind.

The decision to withdraw the request was slammed by lawyers appearing for the Caruana Galizia family, who described the move as being in bad faith and intended to delay proceedings.

“This is truly embarrassing,” prosecutor Philip Galea Farrugia told the court.

Inspector Keith Arnaud, also unhappy with the decision, insisted that the experts should be cross-examined on Wednesday, insisting that they had come a long way to testify.

This was echoed by lawyer Jason Azzopardi, who is appearing parte civile, and who accused the defence of playing for time.

But defence lawyer William Cuschieri insisted that was not the case. He said the FBI experts had not left the USA when the cross-examination request was withdrawn. He said it was the prosecution’s fault that the experts had flown to Malta.

Cuschieri charged that the prosecution was trying to deny his client the right to consult with his lawyer before the FBI witnesses were cross examined.

He added that the request for the FBI witnesses to testify had only been made on behalf of one of the accused – Alfred Degiorgio – and not all of them.

 

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