The Malta Independent 8 December 2021, Wednesday

Carmel Chircop never chased More Supermarket director over €600,000 debt, court hears

Monday, 17 May 2021, 08:26 Last update: about 8 months ago
The compilation of evidence against brothers Adrian and Robert Agius, known as Tal-Maksar, and their associates Jamie Vella and George Degiorgio continued on Monday, with several witnesses testifying about the murders of Daphne Caruana Galizia and Carmel Chircop.

The first witness to take the stand was Etienne Cassar, a sales representative and former director of More Supermarket. He described how one of the Agius brothers had bought a store from the company for the operations of More Supermarket.


While Carmel Chircop was not directly involved in the sale, he had a promise-of-sale agreement on the store, and wanted Cassar to take over this agreement.

Chircop said that he wanted €600,000 for the store, but the sum of money was never paid. A guarantee had been signed, with Adrian Agius putting forward some personal assets as collateral for the deal. One of the parties involved in the deal, Ryan Schembri, had fled Malta after the agreement was put in place.

According to Etienne Cassar, Chircop never chased him over this debt. However, previous court sittings in the case explain that Chircop had been pressing Adrian Agius over the €600,000 payment.

11:36 This was the last witness today. The compilation of evidence continues on Tuesday 18 May at 8:30am. Thank you for following.

11:35 Another doctor from the Mater Dei emergency department is testifying. He had been part of the medical team on site at Bidnija on the day of the murder. He says that he had been given orders by Dr Michael Spiteri to stay in the ambulance.

11:33 She was told to remain on stand-by in the area.

11:33 Dr Luana Formosa is now testifying. On 16 October 2017, the day of the Caruana Galizia murder, she had been in the office of Dr Michael Spiteri at Mater Dei Hospital, when suddenly they received a call that a car exploded. They arrived, but since she wasn't wearing protective gear she was asked to remain outside of the crime scene.

11:29 Simon Aquilina, also an AFM official, gives a similar version of events. He went to the site of the explosion, and the AFM officials were told not to touch anything until a team of foreign experts arrives on site. When they arrived, their involvement in the case ended there.

11:27 Another AFM official takes the stand. He was on shift the day that Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered. When he arrived on site, the car was still on fire, with car pieces scattered all over the area. The AFM team was tasked with evaluating the scene to make sure everywhere was cordoned off once the fire was put out. They had strict orders not to touch anything until foreign investigation teams come to the scene. Instead, they were stationed in the area to make sure no unauthorised parties enter or leave the scene.

11:23 Next is a former AFM official who was stationed in the army's bomb disposal unit. He was asked to attend the search operations in the Marsa potato shed area. These searches were carried out underwater in the area. He confirmed that a Samsung and a couple of Nokias were found in the search.

11:16 AFM official Mario Chant is next to testify. He too was present during the search carried out in Marsa by the potato shed. He says that they were asked to search in this particular area, within which seven mobiles were seized. The first mobile phone found was a Samsung, but the others were all Nokia brands.

11:10 Stephen Said, another AFM official, takes the stand. He said that several mobile phones were found in the Marsa area being searched, but is unable to verify the exact number found. "They were scattered around," he said.

11:06 An AFM official, Mario Sant, steps up to the podium. He was present at the searches carried out around Marsa on December 4, when the Degiorgio brothers together with Vincent Buhagiar were arrested. Several mobiles were found throughout the search, which was carried out until December 8.

11:01 Claire Zammit, a nurse, takes to the witness stand next. She was on the medical team that went to Bidnija when reports came in of a car bomb that went off in the area. She notes how there were no signs of life when the team arrived.

10:57 Next up is Adrian Cachia, another police official. He is giving details about several cars that were being investigated, including Jamie Vella's Volvo that belonged to Brian Cutajar, who manages Regina Auto Dealer. The car was being used by Jamie Vella at the time of his arrest.

10:51 Next is police constable Julian Grech, stationed in the Major Crimes Unit in the police force. He describes how at 1:15pm on the day, they received orders to arrest the Agius brothers. They proceeded to arrest Adrian Agius at a property in Triq San Martin, Baħrija.

10:47 The next witness is police sergeant Darryl Farrugia. On 23 February, he together with other police were given orders to arrest Jamie Vella and the Agius brothers. That day, they received information on the brothers location on the day, and they proceeded with the arrests.

10:45 The witness, Superintendent James Grech, says that the explosion happened further down the road towards Mosta. Requests were made to service providers relating to mobiles used by Caruana Galizia. However, Superintendent Keith Arnaud from the homicide unit made the initial request as he was tasked with investigating the case. The car being driven by Caruana Galizia at the time was rented from Percius car hire.

10:42 And we're back. The next witness is testifying about both the Caruana Galizia and Carmel Chircop murders. Regarding the former, he was at home when he received information that car bomb went off in Bidnija, and that the car was believed to be the one belonging to the murdered journalist.

09:59 The court will now be taking a 30 minute break before hearing other witnesses.

09:58 In a brief testimony, Balzan said that he had been at the Ta' Kandja area when he was informed that a car caught fire in Bidnija, and that it was likely the result of a bomb. Another constable, Mario Farrugia testified similarly.

09:54 Reuben Balzan, a police sergeant is next on the witness podium. He is describing the scene at Bidnija when the fatal car bomb went off that killed journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

09:51 Another police constable, Roderick Degiorgio, has taken to the stand. He was present when Jamie Vella was arrested at the Tal-Ibraġ property. He says that several mobiles were seized, including cash in euros and foreign currencies, as well as his passport.

09:47 Cutajar has finished testifying. A police officer has taken to the stand describing the items seized during the arrests of the four accused. He was the one who had issued an arrest mandate on the four individuals. He said that several mobiles were seized, together with four cars and other items.

09:45 The house was bought from Adrian Agius, but he had to give €165,000 to Carmel Chircop's widow because of a mortgage. Regarding the Tal-Ibraġ property, Cutajar confirmed that only Jamie Vella was staying at this property.

09:44 Cutajar had properties at Tal-Ibraġ, Swieqi that was being taken care of by Jamie Vella. He also purchased a property at Baħar iċ-Cagħaq back in 2017. He presented to the court a copy of the contract drafted when purchasing the property, and a photocopy of a cheque addressed to Mary Rose Chircop, the widow of Carmel Chircop.

09:34 Cassar steps off the podium as his testimony comes to a close. The next witness is Ryan Cutajar, who mans a car showroom.

09:28 Cassar is saying that the company was owed €600,000 for the sale of this property. However, the sum of money was never paid. A guarantee was signed by all parties, namely Cassar, Ryan Schembri and Adrian Agius. Agius had put his property on the table as a guarantee on the purchase.

09:19 Cassar is describing the meetings surrounding the purchase of this store. Topics discussed surrounded primarily agreements on the prices, the gave way for the signing of a guarantee on the store, as signed by Cassar, Ryan Schembri and Adrian Agius.

09:12 The first witness to take the stand is Etienne Cassar, a sales representative of Cassar & Schembri Ltd. He's describing how one of the Agius brothers had bought a store from the company for the operations of More Supermarket.

09:08 A quick reminder: Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo is presiding over the case.

09:07 The magistrate has just emerged from her chambers. She is doing a roll-call of all the parties present.

08:55 The compilation itself is taking place in Hall 16, but due to COVID-19 procedures and the size limitations of the courtroom, the media is live-blogging from a separate hall.

08:52 Good morning. We're live from Courtroom 5, reporting on the compilation of evidence against the Agius 'Maksar' Brothers, George Degiorgio, and Jamie Vella.

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