Bomb which killed Daphne Caruana Galizia was activated from beneath Lower Barrakka
The first details into the investigation of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia started emerging in Court yesterday. Inspector Keith Arnaud began submitting the evidence which led to the arrest of the three men charged with the murder of the journalist, including details about the mobile phones which they used to communicate with each other and to activate the bomb. The testimony of the Inspector was adjourned at 5.40am and is expected to resume this morning at 10am.
The evidence started being heard after Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit decided on whether to refer the case to the First Hall of the Constitutional Court. Earlier, the Magistrate suspended the hearing to write her decree following legal arguments between the prosecution and the defence on whether she should recuse herself from the case.
On the first day of compilation of evidence against George Degiorgio known as ‘Iċ-Ċiniż’, his brother Alfred Degiorgio known as ‘Il-Fulu’; and Vincent Muscat known as ‘Il-Koħħu’, it resulted that the bomb which killed Daphne Caruana Galizia was activated at sea in the area of the Grand Harbour.
According to Inspector Keith Arnaud, who is leading the investigations into the case, he said that the Police had learned that the Degiorgio brothers each had a cabin cruiser. He said that on the day of the murder, from the CCTV cameras belonging to Transport Malta which are located at the Grand Harbour, they noted the boat bearing the name ‘Maya’ which is registered in the name of Alfred Degiorgio, leaving the Grand Harbour shortly before 8am and sailing to the north of the island. At 2.55pm, at the time that the bomb was activated, the boat was at a standstill just beneath the Lower Barrakka gardens, and after four minutes it continued sailing into Marsa and berthing near the potato shed where the three men were eventually arrested.
Inspector Arnaud explained that on the day of the murder, the Secret Service had intercepted a telephone call lasting 13 seconds which George Degiorgio made from out at sea in the area of Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq. Degiorgio is heard asking a third party, “do me a favour and send me a €5 top-up”. The name of the third party cannot be published under Court order. A few minutes later, the person sent him the credit Degiorgio needed to the mobile number requested. Therefore, said Inspector Arnaud, there was the suspicion that these numbers were being used by George Degiorgio, so the Police also requested the data of the mobiles used by his brother Alfred Degiorgio and Vincent Muscat, who shortly after the murder were under the surveillance of the police while they were in each other’s company in Marsa.
The Inspector said that when he went to Bidnija shortly after the explosion, Matthew Caruana Galizia told the police that he was the last person to drive the car the day before and had parked at 6pm behind the gate of the house’s driveway. He said that he had locked it and no one else had used it until Monday when his mother used it in that last fatal drive of just a few metres.
The Inspector added that the Police – on the Magistrate’s orders – had seized 25 hours of security camera footgage from every building in Bidnija and the surrounding area and established that earlier there was someone nearby who was watching the victims’ movements, since she did not have a regular routine. It was established that the surveillance was being carried out from a place known as Tarġa Battery, where one can see the entire hamlet of Bidnija. He testified that a person who lives near by had noticed a small white car parked every day in that area for three whole weeks prior to the explosion. On the day the car bomb exploded, the car was also parked there, but was never seen again following the murder. A fresh cigarette butt was also elevated from this area.
He said that from the investigations carried out by FBI agents, using telephony experts, it resulted that three sim cards had been used. He said that one of the mobile phones was activated shortly after 2am on the morning of 16 October in Bidnija, and remained in place for several hours without any activity until the sms was sent shortly before 3pm, and after that there was no other signal.
Inspector Arnaud said that Europol collected the remains of the car and from its analysis, an electronic board was found which was used in the apparatus which was with the bomb. At this point the Inspector asked the Magistrate for the media to leave the court room as he wished to present certain evidence behind closed doors. He said that samples from the explosives which were sent to the Netherlands, confirmed that these were ‘organic explosives’.
Meanwhile, earlier, Magistrate Stafrace Zammit did not uphold the request by the defence to recluse herself from hearing the case. Dr Francina Abela has stepped down from her role as lawyer for Alfred Degiorgio and instead, lawyers Dr William Cushcieri and Martha Mifsud will be representing this suspect. Dr Benjamin Valencia also said he could not longer represent George Degiorgio because of a potential conflict of interest.
Detailed evidence which traced the accused given by Police