Four persons were this evening charged with a string of offences related to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and that of lawyer Carmel Chircop in 2015.
The accused are brothers Robert and Adrian Agius, known as tal-Maksar, their accomplice Jamie Vella, and George Degiorgio, who is one of the three men who were charged over the Caruana Galizia murder.
George Degiorgio and Jamie Vella were charged with the 8 October 2015 murder of lawyer Carmel Chircop in Birkirkara. They were also charged with possession of firearms and using them in the commissioning of a crime, as well as conspiracy and forming part of a gang.
Adrian Agius was charged with being a mastermind and an accomplice in the murder and financing the killing as well as of forming part of a gang.
He was further charged of having, on 23 February of this year, been in possession of heroin.
Robert Agius and Jamie Vella were charged with having, on 16 October 2017 conspired to commit a crime, forming part of a gang, being in possession of explosives, being accomplices in the murder. This was in relation to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia in a car bomb outside her home in Bidnija.
All four denied the charged levelled against them and were held in custody.
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23:22: Magistrate Axiak departs the courtroom, as do the accused – Jamie Vella first being led away by a white-suited man, Degiorgio following. The Agius’ are handcuffed and led away after a conversation with their lawyers.
23:20: The court orders the acts of the case to be sent to the registrar in order to be assigned according to law, and bids everyone goodnight.
23:19: The court also orders the director of the Asset Recovery Bureau to investigate and secure any monies or other assets belonging to or which are under the control of the accused.
23:14: The Attorney General meanwhile requests the freezing of the men’s assets – a request which the court upholds.
23:13: The defence does not request bail for Vella and the Agius’. Degiorgio, of course, is already held under arrest having been arrested in connection with the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case in December 2017.
23:12: George Degiorgio meanwhile refuses to answer the questions.
23:11: Jamie Vella is also 37 years old. He lives in Swieqi and is unemployed. He too pleads not guilty.
23:10: Adrian Agius is the first to be questioned. He confirms his name, and states that he is 42 years old, lives in Mellieha. His brother Robert is the next to be questioned. He is 37 years old and lives in Bahrija. Both Adrian and Robert Agius said that they work in construction. They both plead not guilty to the charges before them.
23:09: He tells the accused that a number of questions will be asked to them and that they can choose not to answer.
23:08: Magistrate Axiak asks for the charges against the foursome. A court registrar descends from the top desk to retrieve a box file filled with papers. A window meanwhile is opened in the courtroom.
23:07: Arnaud states that the admission of Vince Muscat in the Caruana Galizia case and the granting of a presidential pardon to Muscat for the murder of Carmel Chircop led to the arrest of the four suspects.
23:01: Keith Arnaud and Inspectors Shaun Pawney and Wayne Camilleri are also prosecuting along with Camilleri.
23:00: Magistrate Victor Axiak has entered the courtroom and we are ready to get underway.
22:59: George Camilleri is prosecuting for the Attorney General’s office. William Cuschieri is representing George Degiorgio while Rene Darmanin and Alfred Abela are representing the Agius brothers and Jamie Vella. Jason Azzopardi is appearing parte civile for the Caruana Galizia family.
22:52: George Degiorio is sitting at the centre of the courtroom, his hands resting on either arm of his chair. He has scarcely looked up from the floor. The Agius brothers meanwhile, both in hoodies and light jackets, are alternating between looking on intently and conversing between each other.
22:51: The amount of people on the courtroom floor have been kept at a limit for a reason which is very much in line with the current times: one of the suspects, Jamie Vella, is currently positive for Covid-19. He is sitting in a chair alone in the courtroom and is also wearing a full white PPE suit.
22:48: We are currently in Courtroom 22 awaiting the start of proceedings. The four suspects – brothers Adrian and Robert Agius, George Degiorgio, and Jamie Vella are already in the courtroom, with proceedings likely to get underway soon.
Photos: Giuseppe Attard