Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield said Wednesday that action should be taken against those who, he claimed, tampered evidence in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case by not seeking possession of the journalist’s laptop for investigators and then ordering its destruction.
Bedingfield was speaking in parliament hours after a court dismissed a request by Yorgen Fenech’s lawyers for two laptops and three drives belonging to Caruana Galizia to be presented as evidence. The court said the devices were not in the possession of the police and hence could not be presented.
Fenech stands accused of being an accomplice in the murder. His lawyers argued in court that the devices were important not only to prove Fenech’s innocence but also to test the version supplied by the prosecution’s star witness, self-confessed murder plot middleman Melvin Theuma.
The Labour MP, speaking on parliament’s adjournment, asked who had destroyed the laptop, and why.
He said that days after the murder in 2017, the police, as was the norm, started gathering evidence and identified a laptop as important for the investigation.
But instead of being handed to the police, the laptop was sent to Germany and the inquiring magistrate did not request to have it. Instead, as far as he could see, Bedingfield said, the magistrate ‘received instructions from the (Caruana Galizia) family on what to do’ as he made no request.
Months passed, and another magistrate launched another inquiry related to another important case (the Egrant inquiry).
This magistrate also felt that this laptop may contain important evidence. After almost a year, in July 2019 the attorney general’s office made a formal request to the German authorities for the laptop. But they wrote back that the Maltese police had not asked for this laptop to be preserved and, he said, it was destroyed on orders of the family. He did not say how or when the laptop was destroyed.
Bedingfield argued that the absence of the laptop meant that evidence which might have existed was not in the hands of the investigators.
"Why had this happened? So many things had been said about the process (in court). So much was said about the content of chats and documents, yet this fact was always hidden. Why? Why was a request to preserve the laptop and its evidence not made? In whose interest? Certainly not in the interest of justice."
One had to wonder what interest people had when they destroyed evidence and hid that very fact. This was certainly not in the interest of the truth. The government worked for justice to be served on the basis of facts, not mere words and slogans, Bedingfield said. Those who tampered with evidence should answer for their actions because all should be equal before the law.