The Malta Independent 14 April 2021, Wednesday

Hitman details Daphne murder plot: 'I took Alfred Degiorgio to meet Chris Cardona at Castille'

Thursday, 11 March 2021, 10:37 Last update: about 2 months ago

Vince Muscat ‘il-Koħħu’, the man serving a 15-year prison sentence for his part in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, has set Malta alight.

In a five-hour testimony, the man who tracked Caruana Galizia’s movements with co-conspirator Alfred Degiorgio before she was murdered by a car bomb on 16 October, 2017, corroborated the events leading up to the execution with excruciating detail.

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Before the hearing, Muscat apologised to Caruana Galizia’s family. “I admitted all the charges against me and I have been sentenced,” he said.

But he name-dropped the names of people in power and their associates... at least, the way he remembers the Degiorgios telling him: Chris Cardona, former Labour minister for the economy; Keith Schembri, the former chief of staff to former prime minister Joseph Muscat; as well as the lawyer David Gatt, a man who had been acquitted of masterminding the 2010 HSBC heist in which Muscat himself has yet to stand trial for his part.

Muscat saw Caruana Galizia up close, almost 10 metres away from a vantage point where Alfred Degiorgio was set to kill her with a sniper rifle equipped with a telescopic sight. The plot was called off by George Degiorgio. “Too noisy,” he thought. A bomb, he suggested, was easier to install and cleaner’.

With an auto-focusing telescope, they would see Caruana Galizia typing on her laptop on her sofa till 2am. They saw her on her iPad at a Naxxar café. They looked for her car while she and her husband Peter were at the Phoenicia Hotel on Notte Bianca in the first week of October 2017. They tracked her movements everywhere, spent hours watching her from various vantage points at Bidnija and Mosta.  Muscat said he’d smoke three packets of Rothmans Red a day, watching, sitting on two bricks till his behind “got sore”.

Muscat said both the rifle, and a foreign-made bomb – one of three – were provided by the Agius brothers, and Jamie Vella, the other three men implicated in the Caruana Galizia assassination and the Carmel Chircop murder.

In their car, Muscat and Degiorgio had weapons, ready to shoot their way out of a roadblock. “We had weapons in the car. There was a 9mm automatic that took a 16-round magazine, and an AK47 in the car in case we encountered a roadblock.”

He described the bomb: “Six inches thick, five inches wide and three inches long... It was a neat bomb, it had a stainless steel face. It had an apparatus in which the SIM card would be inserted. The bomb came with a mobile phone. It had a switch. You send a particular message to the SIM card on the bomb. Either Jamie or Robert had told us it would explode seconds later. It had some 500g of explosive.”

He then referenced the Romeo Bone assassination attempt, who lost his legs in an Msida car bomb. “George told us, ‘Let’s hope this one’s not like the Bone bomb’. And then one of the Maksar brothers said the bomb had not been placed under the seat but under the key lock. The car door had shielded him.”

Again, more connections drawing the Agius ‘tal-Maksar’ brothers and the Degiorgios to a spate of car bombs.

Such was the desire to have Caruana Galizia murdered, that the 500g gelatine bomb had a petrol bottle attached to it. “They told George it contained 500g of gelatine. We attached a petrol bottle to it in case it wasn’t strong enough.”

They obtained a car identical to Caruana Galizia’s rental vehicle where down at their Marsa den, they practised how to open the rear window. “They got the test car from Bugibba; the guy who gave it to us knew Robert Agius had sent us,” Muscat said.

Muscat also claimed he drove Alfred Degiorgio to Valletta, to none other than Castille, the seat of Malta’s power, the office of the prime minister, to meet Chris Cardona.

“Alfred came to me one time. He told me, ‘Ċens, let me go and meet Cardona, maybe he’ll give us information. I never met Cardona. But this is what Degiorgio told me. He would go to Castille and speak to him. I would drop him off and go. He would then call me about her whereabouts. One time, Alfred told me Cardona sent me a message. He mentioned the €150,000. He said there are two groups… they quoted the same price.”

The claim suggests that two plots to kill Caruana Galizia could have at one point converged on the one with pardoned middleman Melvin Theuma at its centre: the one allegedly ordered by Yorgen Fenech.

“Degiorgio on called me saying that I don’t need to meet him because Toni ‘l-iblaħ’ (driver to Chris Cardona who was also questioned by police in connection with the claims made by Yorgen Fenech in 2019 to police) was going to give him a lift.”

“Cardona came in to help us,” Muscat told prosecuting inspector Keith Arnaud when asked why Degiorgio had turned to the minister. “Toni would act as a go-between.”

16 October 2017

On the eve of her assassination, Muscat was summoned by the Degiorgios, to pick the bomb from a garage in Santa Venera. The car Caruana Galizia was driving had been left outside the house. The three met up in Bidnija, and Alfred Degiorgio walked up to the car, the bomb carried in a rucksack, soon to be placed under the driver’s seat and switched on.

The next morning they were in position at 6am. George Degiorgio set out at sea to get as far from the location as possible. Later that afternoon, Caruana Galizia stepped outside. “‘Ċens, she’s coming out’, Degiorgio told me… but she went back in. The two men stayed on the phone with each other. Shortly after, she re-emerged, it was like she had forgotten something. Alfred didn’t tell his brother. The agreement was that he would tell him before sending the message.”

“In his mobile phone he had a message, it was long, 9 or 10 numbers. He had to send it to the bomb’s phone. It was saved. George didn’t save the text. It was either Jamie Vella or Robert il-Maksar (Agius).”

Degiorgio detonated the bomb just before she reached the part of the road where it dips. “We were walking back to the car. We didn’t hear anything. Alfred said: ‘I don’t think it exploded’. I looked back and saw black smoke. I swear, your Honour, we heard nothing from there. We heard only a small sound…”

Muscat claims the gang was surprised at the national reaction to the assassination.

They collected their cash two days later from a shop in Marsaskala. Muscat’s cut was €40,000, apart from an initial €10,000 he was paid. In total, the job Melvin Theuma had commissioned was for €150,000.

December arrests

Even more shocking was the fact that the gang knew they were about to be arrested three weeks before the 4 December raids in Marsa. “We were aware they were coming for us some two to three weeks before the 4th. 100%.”

The three agreed to meet in Marsa to be arrested at the same time. Muscat says Alfred Degiorgio claimed that it was Chris Cardona was sending him information on the raids. “A week before the arrest, Melvin Theuma told us that we would be arrested on the 4 December. Degiorgio had the same information. ‘It’s correct’, he said.

Muscat also told the court that he had seen the lawyer and one-time Cardona law firm member David Gatt, drive down to the Marsa den. “He started making a thumbs-up sign to me. George asked me, ‘what is he doing?’, and I said, ‘how would I know?’, and then I told him, ‘Does he know about it’? And he told me, ‘do you know who told him? Keith il-Kasco’ (Keith Schembri). We had thought it was Chris Cardona but it was Keith il-Kasco.

 

“One time, David had told me ‘how long is it going to take you to get rid of her? The Bidnija witch’. I hadn’t spoken to him before… Gatt would make explosion noises to me, but he didn’t talk to me. I understood that the thumbs-up meant that Keith was the ‘number one’ in Malta. Gatt told me nothing but George Degiorgio told me ‘he is Kasco’s man’.”


Follow proceedings live below, refresh the page for updates:

15:38 The next sitting will be questions from the parte civile questions and cross-examination. Muscat is taken out of the courtroom.

15:37 Muscat now recalls the December 2017 arrests. "I was supposed to go there, get arrested, and get released two days later since they would have nothing on me. Alfred say they would probably pin it on George. We arrived in Marsa at around 7am. George was already there. I was uncomfortable... suddenly I heard sirens." Muscat didn't manage to throw away his phone. "When I spoke to Inspector Kurt Zahra, he asked me if I had a lawyer. I had always used Arthur Azzopardi. I told him, 'yes, David Gatt'." Arnaud concludes questioning for today.

15:28 Muscat has now mentioned that before the arrests he had accompanied George and Alfred Degiorgio to the Mile End in Hamrun. "I knew they were going to speak to Chris Cardona because they had told me so. I told them, shall I come with you and they told me, 'No, Ċens, better not.'"

15:25 "One time, David had told me 'how long is it going to take you to get rid of her? The Bidnija witch'. I hadn't spoken to him before... Gatt would make explosion noises to me, but he didn't talk to me. I understood that the thumbs-up meant that Keith was the 'number one' in Malta. Gatt told me nothing but George Degiorgio told me 'he is Kasco's man."

15:21 Another bombshell here.

Muscat said he was following all the news being reported about the Caruana Galizia assassination. "(Lawyer and Cardona associate) Dr David Gatt would come down to the Marsa den and one time we were taking a coffee, and he started making a thumbs-up sign to me. George asked me, 'what is he doing?', and I said, 'how would I know?', and then I told him, 'Does he know about it'? And he told me, 'do you know who told him? Keith il-Kasco' (Keith Schembri). We had thought it was Chris Cardona but it was Keith il-Kasco."

15:16 Muscat says the call from Alfred to George Degiorgio started as soon as Caruana Galizia first emerged from the gate. It stopped when Degiorgio went into the car to flee the scene. "Up until then George was still on the line. The call stopped after the explosion."

15:14 Arnaud asks Muscat about the text message used to detonate the bomb. "In his mobile phone he had a message, it was long, 9 or 10 numbers. He had to send it to the bomb's phone. It was saved. George didn't save the text. It was either Jamie Vella or Robert il-Maksar (Agius)."

15:11 Sitting resumes: Defence counsel William Cuschieri says he will not cross-examine the witness today. Caruana Galizia lawyer Jason Azzopardi will cross-examine at a later date.

14:51 "A week before the arrest, Melvin Theuma told us that we would be arrested on the 4 December. Degiorgio had the same information. 'It's correct', he said."

Arnaud asks for a 10-minute break. Sitting continues at 3pm.

14:50 Vince Muscat says that Alfred Degiorgio had told him go to the Siggiewi bar where Cardona hung out, possible a reference to Ferdinand's. "I don't recall the name, it's next to the parish church. It was a Wednesday, the week before our arrests. We went to look for Cardona, He was not there. Not even (omissis 4)."

Muscat says he had "no idea that a mobile phone top-up would have led to our arrests."

"Alfred Degiorgio told us they would interrogate Chris Cardona and lawyer Arthur Azzopardi," (Azzopardi was Muscat's lawyer before dropping his brief in November 2019; he was also previously a lawyer for one of the Agius brothers, Robert). "I told Azzopardi, that 'were you and Chris Cardona interrogated? He said 'who? me?'."

14:41 Muscat: "Alfred Degiorgio told me that Chris Cardona was sending messages with information on the raids."

14:40 "I had asked him, 'Are they going to charge us?' And George said, 'of course not' (U le, Ċens). George then used his burner phone, when he wasn't supposed to. We were then at the bar next to the potato shed. But we didn't expect such a raid. He came for me at 5am and we went to Marsa so that we would be all arrested together."

14:37 "George Degiorgio told me, 'I've been waiting for them'.... We had agreed to give them all the fingerprints and anything they asked for."

14:35 "We had a Labrador there. We removed her because of the police."

14:34 "I told him, 'I was expecting it.' He said, 'they're saying there is some raid. They need to blame someone in this case. We were aware they were coming for us some two to three weeks before the 4th December. 100%."

14:32 "Then what happened was that later there was Alfred Degiogio preparing his other boat to go fishing. I went there in the morning as usual and saw the boat parked near the tea shop. As I walked a few more cars down, he called me from between the iron bars of the potato shed gate. I told him, 'Haven't you gone fishing yet?' He said: 'What fishing? They told me there's going to be a raid. They're coming for us."

14:28 Two days after the murder, Muscat says he met Alfred Degiorgio at the Marsa den and drove him to Marsaskala, where Degiorgio went inside a shop to pick up the cash from Melvin Theuma. He waited in the car for 30 minutes. "He gave me €40,000 in €5,000 bundles."

14:25 Arnaud asks about the money. Muscat says Melvin Theuma was supposed to arrive with the rest of the money within five days. "He had been coming and going for some time." Degiorgio then cleaned the white car and returned it to the owner; the men changed their burner phones because a relative of Melvin Theuma's had used it.

14:23 Muscat claims they were "shocked at the reaction the murder provoked".

14:21 "In the afternoon we were all in Marsa at the potato shed. George, Alfred, me, and many others. We were listening to the news on the radio."

14:18 "George detonated the bomb before she reached the part of the road where it dips. In the meantime, we were walking back to the car. We didn't hear anything. Alfred said: 'I don't think it exploded'. I looked back and saw black smoke. I swear, your Honour, we heard nothing from there. We heard only a small sound... we left the scene and Alfred stepped on the gas to get out of the Benniena road because cars pass from there. You wouldn't want to encounter some innocent. He drove me to my car on Mgarr Road and drove off. He went to his flat and I drove to Rabat."

14:14 Then at one point, Caruana Galizia stepped outside. "'Ċens, she's coming out', Degiorgio told me... but she went back in. The two men stayed on the phone with each other. Shortly after she re-emerged, it was like she had forgotten something. Alfred didn't tell his brother. The agreement was that he would tell him before sending the message."

14:12 Muscat said they were in a hide that resembled former military rooms. "A man came near the site at one point... he nearly saw us but didn't look in our direction."

14:10 The plan to detonate the bomb was to have George Degiorgio save an SMS text; then he would call his brother from a burner phone. They left the flat at 5:30am. "At 6am we were already in position. George had to go far out to sea, as far out as possible... I cannot recall the name of the boat, but knew its colour, white and blue. We got an umbrella with us, just in case fo rain and made a position for us to wait for Caruana Galizia to leave in her car. A lot of time had passed... George called to ask what was happening."

14:05 "We passed through the reeds, moved to the gate. Fredu opened the car with his device, the same we did it when practising. He opened the rear door and placed the bomb under the seat and switched it on. Then we went away on foot back to the reservoir. We waited for George, but he had gone home. First we spent an hour there looking for movement. I went with Alfred back to the flat. He wanted me to stay on, just in case he oversleeps or something"

13:56 Muscat called George Degiorgio to the site. The victim's car had been parked just down from the gate of her property. They hid the bomb near a water reservoir. It had been packed in a small shoebox in Alfred Degiorgio's back-pack. He put on the rucksack. "The farmer had sown reeds and they had grown six feet high... we took care not to leave footprints... the bomb couldn't explode as the wires weren't connected. He was safe with it."

13:50 Muscat proceeded to pick the keys to the Sta Venera garage from the Marsa den, picked the bomb, drove to Bidnija, where he called up Degiorgio to see where he had posted himself.

13:47 Muscat then recounts that Degiorgio called him one evening to tell him Caruana Galizia had parked her car out in the street. "I was going to Siggiewi and had my children with me. Alfred called up on the burner phone and said, 'Ċens, her car is outside'. I wasn't pleased... I was going out to eat with my family. It was around 9pm, late. I told him the bomb was in Sta Venera, so he said, 'so just bring it down here!'. And I had to take it down there like an idiot."

13:44 Muscat tells the court all he recalls is from memory. "I don't know how to read or write."

13:44 "Cardona came in to help us," Muscat tells Arnaud when asked why Degiorgio had turned to the minister. "Toni would act as a go-between."

13:40 Muscat says the information he has on the meetings between Degiorgio and Cardona are based purely on what Degiorgio told him. "Degiorgio called me and told me once that I don't need to meet him because Toni 'l-iblaħ' (driver to Chris Cardona who was also questioned by police in connection with the claims made by Yorgen Fenech in 2019 to police) was going to give him a lift."

13:38 "I saw him going into Castille from the side-door for his appointment with Chris Cardona," Muscat has told the court.

13:37 Now Muscat is even name-dropping former Assistant Commissioner Silvio Valletta.

"(Omissis 3) had contact with the assistant commissioner... I can't remember his name. He'd speak to (omissis 3) and he would get the information from the assistant commissioner. What's his name? Valletta? Valletta... that's it. Alfred would get the information this way."

13:33 This one's a bombshell.

“Alfred came to me one time. He told me, ‘Ċens, let me go and meet (minister) Chris Cardona, maybe he’ll give us information. I never met Cardona). But this is what Degiorgio told me. He would go to Castille and speak to him. I would drop him off and go. He would then call me about her whereabouts. One time, Alfred told me ‘Cardona sent me a message. He mentioned the €150,000. He said there are two groups… they quoted the same price).”

13:28 Muscat has mentioned someone now which the court prevents us from reporting.

13:27 "After the bomb was delivered to us, we would go to Mgarr, buy pastizzi, and then go scouting her movements. At one time, Melvin Theuma told us to go to some Naxxar teahouse. Who had commissioned him had told him she would be in this area."

13:26 The prosecution has asked the court to ban reporting the exact way the car was unlocked. But the method is rather rudimentary.

13:21 They got the test car from Bugibba; the guy who gave it to them knew Robert Agius had sent them.

13:18 Muscat says they practised on an identical car to Caruana Galizia's rental vehicle, took it to the Marsa den, and Alfred Degiorgio studied the way it had to be opened.

13:17 The Notte Bianca episode was in the first week of October 2017. The bomb was already in their possession by then. "We went to look for her in Valletta and thought we might see her car there. We would have placed the bomb there, under the seat, setting it as she drove back home."

13:12 Back in position. The courtroom is empty, bar journalists typing frantically at their keyboards.

12:41 Prosecution asks for a small break. We resume at 1pm.

12:37 "On another occasion, I don't know whether before or after the airport, the three of us had followed the family. They went to Valletta near the Phoenicia Hotel and parked there. I saw Mrs Caruana Galizia walking in front. They went inside and stayed there till 11pm. It was during Notte Bianca. We set out to look for Daphne's or Peter Caruana Galizia's car but we couldn't find it. We left at 11pm. In the meantime, we had placed the bomb at a Sta Venera garage rented out by George Degiorgio and Jamie Vella by some guy called 'il-Lolly', so wouldn't need to go all the way to Naxxar for it."

12:30 Arnaud asks: "What did George say when they told him it was different?"

Muscat: "They told him it contained 500g of gelatine. We attached a petrol bottle to it in case it wasn't strong enough. We kept the bomb in a cardboard box, across several locations, Naxxar, Santa Venera... we even followed the Caruana Galizias when they went abroad. I had said, 'I think they're off on holiday because they had a lot of luggage.' This was around two months before the murder."

12:29 "It was a neat bomb, it had a stainless steel face. It had an apparatus in which the SIM card would be inserted. The bomb came with a mobile phone. It had a switch. You send a particular message to the SIM card on the bomb. Either Jamie or Robert had told us it would explode seconds later. It had some 500g of explosive. George told us, 'Let's hope this one's not like the Bone bomb'. And then one of the Maksar brothers said the bomb had not been placed under the seat but under the key lock. The car door had shielded him."

12:21 "What I know is that I was told it was 'gelatine'. Jamie or Robert said so. It had terminals for the battery."

12:19 "It was 6 inches thick, 5 inches wide and 3 inches long."

12:19 "Then, when the explosives arrived, I was informed by one of the Degiorgios. And once, one of the Degiorgios told me that the explosive would be placed under an overturned boat. We went there and found it. We took it and drove to Naxxar. They used to discuss these details in front of me. The bomb was sophisticated. It looked like it had been imported."

12:18 "I gave the €10,000 back because I was told that probably it would not go ahead."

12:16 After the rifle plot was discarded, the assassins started discussing getting a bomb from Jamie Vella. "I learned they were going to get three bombs."

12:14 At one point, Degiorgio had parked near a water reservoir. A bowser approached it every night to fill it up. "We saw the yellow beacon light and thought it was a police car."

12:11 Arnaud: "Why didn't you use a bomb then? Why did you plan to shoot her?"

Muscat: "There were no bombs at the time."

12:10 "George Degiorgio always want a bomb. They didn't want to shoot her or follow her around. A bomb, you place it at night and you leave. Quieter, less panic."

12:10 The plan was to shoot Daphne in her home. "George drove us to the post. Alfred had the rifle. We had everything ready, the sandbags... at one point the owner of the site we were in came back, and it gave us a fright but we hid. We checked to see that the light in Daphne's window was on."

"The plan was to have Alfred shoot from under the tree; I would take him away from the scene with a stolen car. As soon as he shot, I would have to raise the gate so that we escape. George started coming up with excuses. The rifle was too noisy. At a point, Alfred was ready to go and called George to start planning the escape. George came back with a stolen Toyota Vitz, stored tin the Naxxar garage. But he made excuses, saying it was too late - it was 11pm - and that there was a roadblock.

"We had weapons in the car. There was a 9mm automatic that took a 16-round magazine, and an AK47 in the car in case we encountered a roadblock."

Arnaud asks why the AK was not used: "It wasn't accurate enough," Muscat says.

12:01 Muscat says Alfred Degiorgio tested the rifle at a field in Ħaż-Żebbuġ.

11:59 "Alfred and George then told the Maksar brothers they weren't good rifles. But one of them was good. It had a scope; it was about a metre long. We left the Naxxar garage. Jamie Vella and Robert Agius knew that out plan was to get rid of Daphne. We'd talk to them."

11:56 "We watched Daphne on her sofa with a laptop, till 2am," Muscat says, estimating the distance at around 10 metres away at a higher elevation. "We had filled sandbags with each for a stable platform for a rifle. At the time we didn't have a rifle. We then got three: one was rusty; we then found a good one: Robert Agius (tal-Maksar) and Jamie Vella supplied the rifles... I had seen the rifles at a garage in Naxxar near the Mosta Lidl. Alfred Degiorgio had the keys to the garage."

11:48 Muscat says they spent entire days at their observation post. "We'd be sitting there on two bricks. It was uncomfortable, you'd get sore. I'd go get food sometimes. I was buying three packs of Rothmans Red a day. We disposed of the butts in a water bottle so as not to leave any trace."

11:46 "At one point Degiorgio told me he was worried Theuma would cancel the job. He started pressing us. Melvin would say, 'get it over and done with' (fittxu eħilsu, fittxu eħilsu). Theuma told Alfred we had to hurry because she was going to publish something. He didn't know about what."

11:41 The small car had adverts affixed to it, and they attempted to remove the stickers with a blade. They later found a better vantage point. He describes the scene, having already been taken there on a crime site visit, and points out an even quieter vantage point. "From up there you can see the house too, and no cars would pass by. There was a farmhouse being built nearby, and over the weeks the occupants would sometimes be watching us." Muscat said they also spent long hours at Mosta's Gnien tal-Gharusa. "We'd spend long hours there, sometimes from 6am to night-time."

11:32 Muscat and Degiorgio started using a rental vehicle, a grey Peugeot 406, rented in Alfred Degiorgio's name. After a while they opted for a smaller car because of the Bidnija roads. "It didn't have Z-licence plates because it belonged to the rental business's owner," Muscat says.

11:28 Asked to clarify by Arnaud, Muscat says it was just one or two weeks after the June 2017 election that they got the go-ahead on the assassination. "We bought four Nokia mobiles, one for each of us, and one for Theuma. We bought them so that we don't use ours. We would leave the phones at the Marsa shed."

11:25 Muscat recalls that he had seen Caruana Galizia at a Naxxar café, where she was alone with her iPad, after Theuma and Alfred Degiorgio had noted that she often hung around "at a café near the bank in Naxxar."

"We went there, and we once saw her car parked close to the church. Alfred had told me, 'Ċens go and see if she's there'. I went. She was sitting at a table alone with her iPad. We followed her. She then left, went to her car and drove home."

11:23 The assassins acquired a telescope from Forestals so that they could watch Caruana Galizia closely. "It would auto-focus so we didn't need to fumble around with it." In the meantime, the pair acquired a weapon. They saw that Caruana Galizia would use her car when she goes shopping, but that she never left it outside the house. They would be scouting the area on a daily basis. George Degiorgio was never on site.

11:15 "There were supposed to be three of us, myself and the Degiorgios. George was supposed to shoot her. The plan was to follow her steps and shoot her when the time was right. After the election, Theuma gave us the go-ahead. He gave us a €30,000 deposit in a brown leather bag at Busy Bee. The sum was paid in €50 notes. We took €10,000 each and started work: Alfred and I followed her to Bidnija."

11:11 Muscat never saw Theuma and Degiorgio talking, but when Degiorgio returned after a second meeting at Busy Bee, he told him of the €150,000. "The cash is here," Theuma had said. Three days later, Theuma gave the green light at another meeting, but the assassination would take place after the election. "We had told each other, he won't do anything," Muscat said when Degiorgio returned from these latter meetings with Theuma.

11:09 At 12pm, Muscat took Degiorgio to the Busy Bee café in Gzira, where he had a coffee as he waited for Theuma. Muscat waited in the car parked outside the Msida church. Degiorgio walked on foot to the café. Degiorgio returned after one hour and told him about the job. He didn't know who had engaged Theuma to carry out the job, but he knew it was at somebody else's behest. The price agreed was €150,000. This was right before the 2017 election.

11:04 "I went to the potato shed, and Alfred Degiorgio came to me at around 9:30am, 10am.. He mentioned Melvin Theuma," Muscat says, confirming it is the same middleman. "He told me that there was a good job for me. He told me (Omissis) should not be brought in on it... he happened to be having a coffee near us." The two then went looking for Theuma, to meet up with him. There Theuma told the pair he wanted them to kill Caruana Galizia.

10:58 Arnaud asks him about his part in the explosion that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia.

10:58 Arnaud begins questioning. Muscat says he has known the Degiorgio for some 35 years. "We would meet in Marsa at the 'potato shed'. It was part of the regatta club but the Degiorgios took care of it. There was a room, it was basically theirs, locked away with a padlock to which they had the keys."

10:57 Muscat asks that he apologises to the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia. "I admitted all the charges against me and I have been sentenced."

10:55 The oath is administered. Muscat kisses the cross.

10:55 Muscat's lawyer Marc Sant has asked the court to ban the publication of names which hadn't already been reported because of ongoing cases. This will be the first time the press hears Muscat's voice testifying in three years. The court orders that, should Muscat mention names who have not yet been mentioned in the case, they are not to be reported.

10:51 Supt. Keith Arnaud tells the court that Vincent Muscat will be testifying today. Accompanied by prison director Alex Dalli, his lawyer Marc Sant and two correctional officers, Muscat is given a chair near the witness stand. He is wearing a bullet-proof vest. As the mics are set up, defence lawyer William Cuschieri protests that he cannot see the witness from where he is. There are armed guards everywhere, even in the upstairs gallery where the press is.

10:50 A court-appointed transcriber now takes the stand. Copies of transcripts from 9 audio files are distributed.

10:43 The magistrate enters the room and the court is in session; a court expert takes the witness stand to inform the court of the conversion of audio files to mp3 format which have been distributed to the parties. No transcripts are available as yet. He hands out USB drives and steps off the stand.

10:41 The Degiorgio brothers, George and Alfred, are led into the courtroom. Inspector Kurt Zahra arrives.

10:38 Matthew Caruana Galizia, son of the late journalist is also inside the courtroom, speaking with other family members.

10:36 Security, already tight with this case, is even tighter this morning, with security teams sweeping the courtroom for explosives before the press pack is allowed in.

10:35 Previously a co-accused in the case, Muscat is turning state witness in exchange for a lighter sentence

10:34 We’re in Hall 22 of the Law Courts again, awaiting what is promised to be explosive testimony by Vincent Muscat in the compilation of evidence against the Degiorgio brothers

10:31 Good morning.

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