Witnesses describe what they saw at the scene where Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered

This morning Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo continued to hear the compilation of evidence against brothers Adrian and Robert Agius, Jamie Vella and George Degorgio.

They are being accused of charges related to the murders of Dr Carmel Chircop on 8 October 2015 and Daphne Caruana Galizia on 16 October 2017.

The prosecution is being led by Supt Keith Arnaud along with Inspector Shawn Pawney and Wayne Camilleri and Dr George Camilleri from the Office of the Attorney General.

Dr Alfred Abela and Dr Renè Darmanin are defending the Agius brothers and Vella, while Dr William Cuschieri is appearing for Degiorgio.

The Caruana Galizia family is being represented by Dr Jason Azzopardi and Dr Therese Comodini Cachia while the Chircop family is being represented by Dr Vince Galea.

9.20 Dr Veronica Anne Spiteri took the stand. She presented eight statements from the four accused. These will be passed on to the Prosecution, the defence and the parte civile, in other words, in this case, the lawyers appearing for the victims.

9.23 Fireman Arthur Grech, stationed in Xemxija, testifies. He said that on 16 October, 2017, a phone call was received at 3p.m. informing them that there had been an explosion and a fire had broken out in a field.

He described the scene where he found a car in flames, and when the fire was brought under control they realised there was a person inside.

9.32 PC Charles Azzopardi, who was stationed in Mosta, testifies that he arrived at the murder scene and found a car in flames. He said that a man approached him, who turned out to be Matthew Caruana Galizia, who told him that his mother was the person in the car.
The Police officer said that he looked down and saw a person’s hand. He told Caruana Galizia’s son to move back. He said they realised it was a car bomb because the roof of the car had been pushed upwards.

9.35 Next to take the stand was fireman Massimo Cassar who said that he was involved in putting out the fire which had enveloped the car and around Bidnija. He said that when the fire was extinguished, he saw a person inside, and the car had no windows or windscreen.

9.36 Another fireman,Harry Edison, described that the shape of the car after the explosion was in the form of a bubble. He explained that he saw a number of body parts scattered on the ground.

9.28 The former owner of the boat “Maya”, Ivan Formosa, is testifying saying that he had sold his boat after he had had it for eight years.

He explained that on 2 February, he met with George Degorgio who told him that he wanted to buy the boat. He did not know Degiorgio and he only contacted him because he had a boat for sale.

The next day Degiorgio came to try out the boat and the next day he gave him a despot. He said that in all, Degorgio paid €30,000 for the boat.

At this point Dr William Cuschieri intervenes, saying that the prosecution is asking questions which are irrelevant to the case.

He said that the defence would like to close off the compilation in order to go for a trial as quickly as possible in order to prove the innocence of his client.

9.53 Francis Sant from Bidnija takes the stand. He says he was driving his car in the area where Caruana Galizia was killed. He said that at the time he was going up the hill and saw a small white car coming from the opposite direction.
Sant said that when the cars were around 20 metres away from each other, the car stopped and he noticed that the person inside it was panicking.

He explained that he stopped and at one point, he saw the car burst into flames. A few seconds later he saw a larger explosion and the car was propelled forward, coming quite close to his and careening towards the field on the opposite side.

Sant said he felt as if he had witnessed an execution and was in great shock, while explaining that shortly afterwards, he saw Caruana Galizia’s son although he did not recognise him at first.

When he asked him who the car belonged to, Matthew did not answer him but kept running towards the field and almost walked right into the flames.

Sant said that after he gave his Police statement, many journalists had approached him to describe what he saw that day.

10.00 Wallace Sammut testifies. He lives in the area where the suspicious car was seen in the vicinity.

He said that he saw the car parked there several times, sometimes even in front of the gate of his house, and that once he saw a person in the car but could not remember who was driving.

Asked what was suspicious about the car, he said that it was a rental, and was often parked in front of his home even though it did not belong to anyone who lives in that road.

10.15 The sitting is suspended for 15 minutes.

10.30 Another person who lives in the vicinity takes the stand. She described that she also saw the suspicious car, a Peugeot model, which was parked there often.

She said that a few days after the murder, during questioning, she was asked about this car by Inspector (now Supt) Keith Arnaud and confirmed that the vehicle was a small white Peugeot but no one was ever in it.

10.41 An official from Percius Car Hire takes the stand. He said that he used to rent cars out to Daphne Caruana Galizia. He said they had leased a car to her and shortly afterwards they brought her another brand new one, which she was the first to use. This was three months prior to the murder.

10.49 Mario Vella, who lives in Bidnija, said on the day Mrs Caruana Galizia was killed, he was in Mosta and his daughter called him, telling him she had heard an explosion and asked him whether everything was alright since he has a farm in that area.

His daughter thought something had happened at her father’s farm.

A few minutes later he went to the farm and on the way he noticed the car in flames and a man crying on the side of the road.

Vella described how he met another witness who had already testified, Frans Sant, and asked him what was happening. Sant told him that a person was trapped in the car.

The witness added that the man he saw shortly before that, who he later realised was Matthew Caruana Galizia, began shouting at him in English.

He asked what happened, and Caruana Galizia accused him of taking photos of the incident. A Police officer approached them and it was confirmed that no one had taken any photos.

Vella said that despite this, Matthew Caruana Galizia threw his mobile to the ground but was then taken to the other side of the road to calm down.

11.00 The sitting ends here. The compilation will continue on 17 May.