New claims emerge about Daphne Caruana Galizia murder plan

Confession claimed original plan was to shoot Maltese journalist, Reuters reports

One of three men awaiting trial for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia claimed they originally planned to shoot the journalist through a window where she often sat while working at home, it has emerged.

Caruana Galizia died in October 2017 when a bomb planted in her car exploded as she drove away from her home in the village of Bidnija. She was 53.

The claims about how the killing was planned were revealed on Thursday by Reuters, which obtained information about the confession of Vincent Muscat, one of the three men accused of planting the bomb. The news agency received the information in April last year but held back from publication until now to protect the police inquiry.

Muscat is accused alongside two brothers, Alfred and George Degiorgio. The brothers continue to deny Daphne’s murder and have declined to answer police questions. Marc Sant, a lawyer defending Muscat, declined to comment, as did lawyers for the brothers.

According to Muscat’s reported account, the brothers acquired a rifle with telescopic sights from Italy. He alleged it was Alfred who was going to fire the weapon.

The gang began their work by watching Daphne’s movements, tailing her car and observing her home. They identified a window where she often sat while working on her laptop. At one stage, sandbags were placed on a wall that had a view of the window to provide a stable rest for the rifle.

Eventually, it was claimed, the three settled on a different plan. They obtained a bomb, bought from Maltese gangsters and apparently supplied by the Italian mafia. The next few weeks were spent working out how and when to detonate the device.

Caruana Galizia lived in a house set within a walled compound. She usually parked her car inside the compound. That posed an obstacle to her would-be killers, who needed access to the vehicle to place the bomb. In case they had to climb into her garden to reach it, they devised a leash to control the dog that ran around inside.

But Muscat claimed that on the evening of 15 October 2017, he and the Degiorgio brothers realised the car had been parked outside the gate. Later that night, in the early hours of 16 October, police have said in court, the two Degiorgios and Muscat went to Bidnija to plant the bomb.

The person briefed on Muscat’s confession said he alleged that Alfred broke into the car by levering open a window. With George watching out from a high vantage point and Muscat watching the lane outside the house, Alfred crept inside the car and put the bomb under the driver’s seat.

According to Muscat’s testimony, the killing was allegedly contracted in the summer of 2017 when Muscat dropped his friend Alfred at the Busy Bee, a harbour-front cafe near Malta’s capital renowned for its pastries. Degiorgio didn’t stay long. A few minutes later he jumped back into the car to report to Muscat that they had a contract: to kill the island’s best known journalist.

In interviews with police, Muscat named a taxi driver and loan shark called Melvin Theuma as the middleman who had arranged Daphne’s killing, the person familiar with his confession said. Muscat drove Alfred Degiorgio to several meetings with Theuma, Muscat told police.

Muscat first gave his evidence last year in the hope of obtaining a presidential pardon in return for information that could lead to those who ordered the killing.

In the end, the pardon was granted to Theuma after his arrest this month. Theuma was given immunity from prosecution on Monday after alleging that a well-known businessman, Yorgen Fenech, paid for the killing. Fenech’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Speaking for the first time since Muscat’s arrest, his wife, Pauline Muscat, claimed her husband had been treated unfairly. “It’s a complete injustice that Theuma should give evidence against Vince when Vince was the one that led police to him and helped solve this case,” she said. “He is the one who should be pardoned, not Melvin.”

This article is based on an investigation by Stephen Grey at Reuters


Juliette Garside in Valletta

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Daphne Caruana Galizia murder: officials 'seeking to stall' inquiry
Top EU official flies to Malta as authorities accused of seeking to delay attempts to find those behind journalist’s killing

Daniel Boffey in Brussels

13, Jun, 2018 @3:16 PM

Article image
Two brothers jailed after admitting murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia
George and Alfred Degiorgio both given 40-year sentences for killing of Maltese journalist in 2017 car bombing

Juliette Garside

14, Oct, 2022 @8:47 PM

Article image
Daphne Caruana Galizia murder: prime minister's aide released
Malta police say they carried out ‘intensive investigation’ into claim Keith Schembri was behind killing

Juliette Garside in Valletta

29, Nov, 2019 @1:05 AM

Article image
Accused brothers seek pardon in Daphne Caruana Galizia case
George and Alfred Degiorgio offer Maltese prosecutors details on other men involved in killing

Lorenzo Tondo in Palermo

23, Mar, 2021 @7:18 PM

Article image
​Bank criticised by Daphne Caruana Galizia under scrutiny in Brussels
Regulators question Maltese bank Pilatus which was suing journalist at time of murder

Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Rome

02, Feb, 2018 @1:44 PM

Article image
Pope writes rare letter of condolence after murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia
In highly unusual gesture from the Vatican, Pope Francis writes to say he is praying for journalist’s family and Maltese people

Jon Henley

20, Oct, 2017 @12:24 PM

Article image
Suspect in Daphne Caruana Galizia murder says he got tipoffs from official
Yorgen Fenech tells court Malta PM’s former chief of staff gave him updates on investigation

Jennifer Rankin in Brussels, and Reuters in Valletta

05, Dec, 2019 @5:02 PM

Article image
Ten arrested over murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia
Malta’s PM, Joseph Muscat, offers ‘personal commitment’ that those responsible for the killing will be found

Jon Henley, Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Jamie Grierson

04, Dec, 2017 @1:29 PM

Article image
Daphne Caruana Galizia: killer lays out murder plot in court
Vincent Muscat describes spying on the journalist and discussions about how she would be killed

Lorenzo Tondo

11, Mar, 2021 @5:40 PM

Article image
Malta's former PM questioned over Daphne Caruana Galizia murder inquiry
Joseph Muscat formally interviewed for first time in connection with investigation

Juliette Garside

21, Aug, 2020 @3:09 PM