The compilation of evidence into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia continued this morning.
IT expert Martin Bajada testified in today’s sitting, having previously been barred from testifying in a previous sitting.
11:04 The case is scheduled to continue on April 12.
11:02 The sitting has now concluded.
11:02 At this point, all the defence lawyers are reserving their position and right to raise preliminary pleas over the admissibility of evidence, in particular the evidence compiled which require particular expertise and whether any laws were breached, including European laws.
11:00 Bajada is going on to explain how the call profiles led him to establish the exact time of the explosion. “I can only tell you that the two devices communicated. I can never say who is behind every device or who made what call.” The witnesses to the event were asked questions related to the time of explosion, and that information was then compared to the call profiles of the devices in question, he says.
10:53 The two devices’ activity fit exactly into the timeline of how the car bomb murder unfolded, as established by witnesses, calls to 112, civil protection department personnel, and so on, Bajada says.
10:50 Bajada is elaborating on the SMS text sent to the receiver device. He explains that the purpose of the message was to give power to a component. After the explosion on 16 October, the two devices were never used again, he says.
10:49 Inspector Arnaud is now continuing to question the witness. Responding, Bajada says that IMEI numbers have 14 digits and each digits contains specific details of the device. There is an international register of IMEI numbers, he says.
10:45 Cuschieri then says he will ask for the removal of the cloned phone from the records of the case.
10:44 As the lawyers argue the point hotly, Bajada remains serene as ever. “The [mobile phone data] clone is not in the acts, as I was not authorised to reveal the headers and footers of the data,” he tells the court.
10:40 The Magistrate clearly states that Bajada cannot determine what is a threat or not, as this isn’t within his remit.
10:39 Commodini Cachia says he would not be happy with such a system, since this would still fail to protect the wider sources. Fenech interjects: “Who is going to protect the rights of the accused? We are not interested in the source, but only in having information to defend the accused.”
10:37 At this point, magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit says that Bajada was never authorised to analyse threats. Bajada then suggested that other parties suggest a list of keyword which could constitute threats, for which he would then search the data.
10:37 Martin Fenech, lawyer to Vince Muscat, asks whether the data on Caruana Galizia’s phone included any threats to the journalist. The question arose in the courtroom on what constitutes a threat.
10:33 Bajada continues giving testimony. He says that, before the arraignment of the three accused, the cloned phone had not been fully analysed. “I now have that information, but the magisterial inquiry is still underway and I cannot reveal such information,” he said, adding that he would oblige in doing so if authorised by the court.
10:30 “But here we have very serious allegations here,” interjects Cuschieri. Subsequently, parte civile lawyer for the victim’s family Therese Commidini Cachia tells the court that it had to protect sources who had been passing on information to Caruana Galizia.
10:28 Bajada tells Cuschieri that he had been told not to disclose sources, and that there was no mention of journalism in particular.
10:27 The application to protect Caruana Galizia’s sources had been filed by the Institute of Maltese journalists and accepted by Magistrate Vella in late October 2017.
10:26 But Cuschieri says he is “not interest in the journalistic sources”. “I’m interested in threats – if there are any threats they must be exhibited,” he says.
10:24 Cuschieri is now shifting his questioning to Caruana Galizia’s mobile phone, asking about the sources on the phone. “They are journalistic sources, right?” he asks. At this point, Inspector Keith Arnaud, the lead inspector in the journalist’s murder investigation, object, saying that there is a decree by Magistrate Anthony Vella protecting Caruana Galizia’s sources.
10:21 “You can’t say with moral certainty what it [the device] was used for?” Cuschieri asks the witness. “I never said that. It wasn’t my brief,” Bajada replies, “…My brief was to analyse call profiles, I’m not an investigator.”
10:19 The mobile in question sent a message “#rel1=on”, and this was received by the cell tower, Bajada says. The message remained “attached” to the antenna because the device it was sent to didn’t have time to acknowledge delivery.
10:18 Bajada goes on to explain how SMS antennae work, saying that every mobile phone communicates with the closest antenna. Asked what would happen if the closest antenna is out of order, he said it would then communicate with the one which is second closest.
10:16 Cuschieri then asks about how Bajada had obtained the information regarding SMS texts which were sent, with the witness saying he had asked the magistrate for permission and that the data had been passed on to him by the police. “I never had direct communication with the FBI other than on two occasions, once in presence of the magistrate and once in presence of police,” he reiterates.
10:15 Cuschieri questions the relevant of this. “And so?” he asks, with Bajada replying that he hadn’t drawn any conclusions.
10:13 Bajada says he tried to analyse whether they had been used before that day, and that it resulted that they had. “On January 10, in August and on the day of the bombing. Only on those three dates.”
10:12 Bajada continues speaking about the telecommunication devices, the activity of which which he had identified as being relevant to the case. He says that the devices in question communicated with each other, and that, after analysing the call profiles and the devices, he noticed something was “alarming” because one of the devices was not a phone, but a GPS receiver.
10:08 Bajada says that, from its IMEI number he could determine that the device was a Nokia 105.
10:06 “You can’t say with moral certainty what type of device it was,” Cuschieri says. Bajada replies: “The device was a sim 900. Yes I could… every device has a unique number, like a chassis number.”
10:05 Bajada attempts to elaborate that, for a specific period he gathered thousands of phone calls, and tries to say something about two particular numbers at the time of the explosion. However he is cut off by Cuschieri, who is aggressive in his questioning.
10:02 Cuschieri went on to point out that Bajada has no accreditation. The lawyer then asked about call profiles in Bidnija, with Bajada saying he had made a request to all service providers for all calls on the day in that area. He said he checked the calls at the time of the explosion.
10:00 Asked about the FBI’s involvement, Bajada said he had nothing to do with them and that he only had a meeting with them at police HQ.
09:58 William Cuschieri, Alfred Degiorgio’s lawyer, is questioning Bajada’s authorisation. Bajada says he was authorised for each of the actions he took. Cuschieri asks if there was an explicit decree. “I don’t know if there was a decree, but I was expressly authorised by the magistrate,” replied the witness.
09:57 Caruana Galizia’s mobile phone was cloned, which allowed Bajada to download emails, files and so on. He is handing out copies of the data in court to the parties, except for the victim’s phone data.
09:54 This evidence will not be exhibited today, because the inquiring magistrate had imposed a ban to protect sources.
09:53 Bajada also looked at SMS text messages, calls, and Whatsapp texts and media clips from all media houses.
09:52 He also analysed CCTV footage from locations in Bidnija, Mosta and Sliema, together with calls to the 112 emergency number from the day Caruana Galizia was murdered.
09:50 Court IT expert Martin Bajada takes the stand. He was appointed to analyze call profiles, blog and IT data and pass it on to Europol.
09:48 Alfred Degiorgio, another of the accused, comes in to the packed courtroom. It is fuller than usual, as the magistrate is hearing a number of other cases before the Caruana Galizia sitting.
09:44 George Degiorgio, one of the three accused, has just entered the courtroom, accompanied by security personnel. Security is tight with armed guards standing outside.
The key courtroom players
William Cuschieri and Martha Muscat are appearing for Alfred Degiorgio, known as il-Fulu, 53.
Martin Fenech is appearing for Vince Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, 55.
Josette Sultana is appearing for George Degiorgio, known as iċ-Ċiniz, 55.
Philip Galea Farrugia from the Attorney General’s Office and Inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra are appearing for the prosecution.
Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing parte civile.
Who are the accused?
George Degiorgio 55, unemployed, lives in St Paul’s Bay, known as Ic-Ciniz
Alfred Degiorgio, 53, unemployed lives in St Paul’s Bay, known as il-Fulu
Vincent Muscat, 55, unemployed lives in Msida, known as il-Kohhu
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