Murder suspect Yorgen Fenech has been denied bail with the court ruling that there exists the possibility of tampering with evidence.
The ruling was delivered on Tuesday by Magistrate Rachel Montebello, who is hearing the compilation of evidence against Fenech, who stands accused of masterminding the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Montebello turned down Fenech’s request for bail, insisting that the accused did not appear to have acted on his own, investigations were ongoing and there were other people considered to be persons of interest indicated by the suspect himself.
She also noted that while Fenech’s family and business interests tied him down to Malta, the fear of him absconding was not misplaced.
She said that during the compilation of evidence the court heard of plans for Fenech to escape from the country and he was arrested while leaving Malta on his yacht.
The magistrate refused bail. This is the fourth refusal of bail.
Rules against constitutional reference
She then ruled against Fenech’s request for a reference to the constitutional court over what he claims was a breach of his human rights when he was denied access to the contents of his mobile phone that was confiscated by the police.
The magistrate ruled that the mobile phone and its contents was still be investigated and could not be returned to Fenech. She refuted the claim that the accused’s human rights were breached since the prosecution had not yet terminated the evidence stage and the data from the phone would eventually be presented in the acts of the case.
Ruling on concerns about references to unconnected third parties in recordings and data extracted from equipment, the court appointed expert Alvin Cardona to meet the parties and go through the data together, to decide what is relevant to the case and disregard the rest.
Montebello ruled that the accused should be present when this takes place, as will lawyers representing the Caruana Galizia family.
Fenech was arrested in November 2019 and has been in custody ever since.
On Monday, Fenech’s lawyer Charles Mercieca argued that the fear of tampering with evidence was not real given the time his client has been kept in detention.
“This phantom fear of public disorder does not result from anywhere, not least the law,” Mercieca said in his submissions on bail.
He added that Fenech was not to blame for the bad reputation Malta earned itself abroad. “Malta was put on the map in a bad way not because of Yorgen Fenech but because of the lack of rule of law. This assassination plot was hatched in Castille and the police and the government did nothing to stop it. Where is the public disorder?”
The prosecution is led by inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra, aided by the Attorney General.
Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing parte civile for the Caruana Galizia family.
The defence lawyers are Mercieca, Gianluca Caruana Curran and Marion Camilleri.
The next sitting is on 6 October at 10am.