The Malta Independent 11 December 2019, Wednesday

Daphne murder: Suspects request presentation of phone intercepts which led to arrests

Monday, 12 August 2019, 15:09 Last update: about 5 months ago

Two of the men who stand accused of planting a bomb used in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia have requested that the Attorney General, Commissioner of Police and head of the Security Services exhibit the phone intercepts and relative warrants which led to their arrests, arguing that a failure to do so would be a tacit admission that they either do not exist or had been obtained illegally.

George Degiorgio and Alfred Degiorgio, who together with Vincent Muscat, are charged with the murder, today filed a judicial protest in the First Hall of the Civil Court against the AG, the Commissioner of Police and the Director of MSS. The protest argues that they were indicted after the compilation of evidence was “rushed through.”

From the moment of their arrest, said their lawyer William Cuschieri, the prosecution had boasted that they possessed telephone intercepts of calls made by George Degiorgio which were crucial in leading them to the arrests of the Degiorgios and Muscat.

Amongst the intercepted calls are calls relating to a request for a top up voucher used in the bombing and others where George Degiorgio says that he “caught two big fish today” and asking his girlfriend to buy him wine to celebrate.

This was all testified to by Inspector Keith Arnaud in the compilation of evidence, said the lawyer, and had “created a lot of sensationalism in the media to the detriment… of their presumption of innocence.”

But Cuschieri pointed out that despite it being mentioned, the Commissioner of Police had failed to furnish the court with recordings or transcripts of the intercepts and had also failed to produce the Head of the Security Services to confirm their authenticity.

In fact, the lawyer went on, the Commissioner had also failed to inform the court whether the intercepts had been made under a warrant issued by the responsible Minister as contemplated at law.

Cuschieri pointed to case law which had emphasised the importance of exhibiting not only the transcripts and witnesses, but also the warrants under which the intercepts were made. None of these were exhibited whilst the compilation of evidence was still open, he said.

“This all could mean the following:

a)       That it is not true that these intercepts alleged by the Commissioner of Police were made;

b)      That if they were indeed made, they were made in an entirely illegal manner without a warrant;

c)       That if the intercepts indeed were made (illegally) they certainly were not made with reference to the investigation of a crime which had not yet happened, but certainly in reference to another investigation…and cannot be used as evidence in this case;

d)      That if the intercepts were illegally made they were passed on, equally illegally, by the Head of the Security Services to the Commissioner of Police;

e)      That if the intercepts truly exist, there is an interest in revealing in an entirely illegal, arbitrary manner a small snippet of the full contents of the intercepts allegedly made during the phonecalls.”

The accused were being held under arrest on the basis of this “suspicious, abusive and illegal behaviour” by the protested parties, suggested the lawyer, demanding that the respondents present copies of the recordings and transcripts, together with the relative warrants within 24 hours. Failing this, the respondents would be called to formally recognise that they had no legal evidence with regards to telephone intercepts and compensate the complainants for the “unfounded sensationalism” and damage they had caused to their case.

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