The Malta Independent 18 April 2024, Thursday
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Daphne murder case could be delayed by months as Yorgen Fenech’s defence seeks evidence analysis

Tuesday, 21 November 2023, 17:00 Last update: about 6 months ago

The Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case against Yorgen Fenech may be extended by several more months as his defence team pressed for a review of the murdered journalist’s blog on Tuesday.

The request was made during a court sitting which heralded the reopening of the compilation of evidence stage of the case, more than two years after it had been concluded.

Fenech’s defence lawyer Charles Mercieca said that if the court were to accept the request then it will take the nominated court expert until “at least February or March” of next year to complete the task at hand.

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His request was for court IT expert Martin Bajada to review threats which may have been posted to Caruana Galizia’s blog, Running Commentary.

Bajada had confirmed that he had identified 482 such comments by people who potentially had a “motive” and eventually whittled them down to posts within “eight to 10” blog posts Caruana Galizia had written.

He testified about this in detail behind closed doors.

Mercieca told the court that he and fellow defence lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran had been seeking the expert’s testimony back in July 2021, but said that prosecutors had given the impression that the expert had already testified and therefore could be discounted, despite the evidence he had being “clearly relevant.”

Mercieca observed that had Bajada testified at the time, then his client would have been granted bail because the maximum time he could have been held in custody would have elapsed.

Bajada was initially summoned to testify about information extracted from a clone of Caruana Galizia’s phone, seized from the Bidnija site where she was killed in October 2017.

Bajada was one of several experts to testify during Tuesday’s court session.

The court also heard the testimony of various DNA, fingerprint and forensic experts who presented reports about information extracted from papers handed to Yorgen Fenech by doctor Adrian Vella.

Vella has testified that he was given those papers by Keith Schembri, the former OPM chief of staff.

Another IT expert, Keith Cutajar, told the court he extracted data from two laptops seized from Schembri’s home towards the end of 2019. He was unable to extract data from a tablet, while Schembri’s phone was never located.

At the start of the sitting, former AFM commander and explosives expert Jeffrey Curmi also testified behind closed doors.

The compilation of evidence against Fenech, who is accused of complicity in the Caruana Galizia murder, had initially been concluded in August 2021, but a court ordered it to be reopened earlier this year after his legal team filed a number of pre-trial pleas, arguing that key witnesses had not been given the chance to testify.

Three – Vincent Muscat and brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio – are in prison for the planting and detonation of the bomb which killed Caruana Galizia, while Melvin Theuma was granted a presidential pardon in exchange for his testimony as the middleman in the murder.

He testified that Fenech had given him money and instructions in order to commission the hit.

Fenech himself pleaded not guilty upon his arrested in 2019.

The case resumes next week.

Deputy attorney general Philip Galea Farrugia, Attorney General lawyers Adrian Vella and Godwin Cini, and Police Inspector Kurt Zahra prosecuted.

Lawyer Jason Azzopardi appeared on the Caruana Galizia family’s behalf.

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