Accused brothers seek pardon in Daphne Caruana Galizia case

George and Alfred Degiorgio offer Maltese prosecutors details on other men they say were involved in killing

Two brothers accused of direct involvement in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia have asked for a presidential pardon in exchange for supplying state prosecutors with information on other men involved in the killing, including a former minister and a “middleman”.

George and Alfred Degiorgio, both arrested and accused of planting and triggering the car bomb that killed the investigative journalist in 2017, have sent two separate letters with formal requests to Malta’s president, George Vella.

Alfred Degiorgio stated that in exchange for pardon and immunity, he would also name a former minister who commissioned the murder, while his brother George DeGiorgio said he was willing to offer further information on two unsolved bomb-related crimes.

He also requested that the pardon be extended to his “partner”, Anca-Adelina Pop, who has been accused of money-laundering crimes.

The information, first leaked to Reuters journalist Stephen Grey, who posted it to Twitter, was confirmed by the Degiorgios’ lawyer, William Cuschieri.

“This request must be treated in the same manner as any other request made in this way,” Cuschieri told Malta Today on Tuesday, and “not discarded because it mentions involvement of certain individuals who occupy or occupied certain posts.”

Vincent Muscat, Caruana Galizia’s self-confessed killer – who has turned state’s witness – earlier this month gave a court in Valletta the fullest account yet of the plot to murder the journalist.

Speaking in the presence of journalists and Caruana Galizia’s relatives, he gave evidence of what he says is the involvement of the Degiorgios in Caruana Galizia’s assassination, telling the court the three of them used binoculars and a telescope to follow her movements for days.

Muscat said the original plan was to shoot Caruana Galizia in her home: “The plan was to have Alfred shoot from under the tree. I would take him away from the scene in a stolen car. George started coming up with excuses [such as] the rifle was too noisy.”

The shooting plan was eventually abandoned, the hitmen opting instead to use a bomb. “George Degiorgio always wanted a bomb … a bomb you place at night and you leave. Quieter, less panic.”

Muscat also reiterated claims he has previously made to police that he drove Alfred Degiorgio to meet the former economy minister Chris Cardona in Valletta in the run-up to the murder, and that Cardona allegedly tipped off the men before they were arrested in December 2017.

Cardona told the Malta Independent that Muscat’s claims were “craziness and blatant lies”. He added: “I was never aware of any project to kill anyone. This is pure evil fiction.”

Seven men in total have either admitted to or have been charged with complicity in the killing. They include the property and energy tycoon Yorgen Fenech, who denies any involvement with the murder, and Melvin Theuma, a taxi-driver who confessed to being the middleman in the alleged contract killing.

So far, five of the seven men implicated in the murder have tried to cut a deal with the state.

Muscat was the first to request a pardon in April 2018.

Theuma was granted a pardon in November 2019 after he revealed what he knew about the murder. He is currently living in a safe house. His evidence implicated Fenech, who was arrested in 2019 as he was attempting to leave Malta on his yacht. Fenech is in custody awaiting a decision on whether he will face trial.

A source close to the case said that the request for a presidential pardon for the DeGiorgios is unlikely to be granted.

A statement from the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation said it would not support a pardon.

“Full justice can only be served if Daphne’s killers receive the punishment that fits their crime – the murder of a mother by criminals who were willing to blow up her family with her to make sure she is killed.

“Justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia means her murderers should not be pardoned. Past crimes should not be cashed as currency for killers to escape justice for murder.”


Lorenzo Tondo in Palermo

The GuardianTramp

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