Thu, Dec 07, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Three men charged with murder of Maltese journalist

AP, VALLETTA

A Maltese court on Tuesday charged three men with the car-bomb slaying of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, as details from the investigation indicated she was killed by a remote-controlled explosion of TNT.

Seven other Maltese men were released on bail pending further investigation.

The arrests on Monday of the 10 men was the first breakthrough in the Oct. 16 killing that shocked the Mediterranean island and led the European Parliament to send a delegation on a fact-finding mission related to the rule of law in Malta.

The three main suspects, who all had previous police records, arrived under heavy police escort at the court late on Tuesday and pleaded innocent to the charges, which included murder and possession of explosive material. They were represented by a court-appointed lawyer.

Peter Caruana Galizia, the victim’s husband, attended the hearing.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, was a leading investigative reporter whose exposes focused on corruption, drug trafficking and scandals involving Malta’s elite. She also wrote about Maltese links to the Panama Papers leaks about offshore financial havens.

She was killed when a bomb blew up in her car she drove near her home.

Ahead of the arraignment, officials with knowledge of the investigation said FBI equipment helped in the collection of “electronic communication evidence” that led to the suspects. The evidence included triangulation data of the call that triggered the bomb that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The type of explosive used was TNT, the officials also said, contradicting earlier reports that Semtex plastic explosive had been used. The officials agreed to discuss the case only if not quoted by name because they were not authorized to release details.

The officials said the investigation into the other seven arrested men would continue, but with no charges being filed the men had to be released under Maltese law within 48 hours of their arrest.

They were forced to turn over their passports and must check in regularly with police.

Two of the three men charged, Vincent Muscat, 55, and Alfred Degiorgio, 52, were acquitted in 2004 on armed robbery charges, while Degiorgio’s brother George, 54, was charged with possession of unlicensed weapons and tools used to pick locks.

Muscat, who shares the Maltese prime minister’s last name, but is not a relative, was also critically injured in a 2014 shooting from which he recovered.

At a news conference announcing the arrests Monday, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the FBI helped Maltese police in their investigation together with Europol, the EU’s police agency and other European investigators, including from Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation.

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