A man accused of murdering journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has filed a request for a reference to the Constitutional court, claiming that an affidavit he had filed in a civil case and presented in court by the police breached his right to silence.

George Degiorgio is insisting that the affidavit, drawn up in 2013 before any investigations and criminal proceedings had kicked off, impinged on his right to silence as he had not replied to any of the police questions so they had gone and “fished out” this to be brought as evidence. 

If this request for a constitutional reference is upheld by the court, the money laundering case may be suspended. 

Mr Degiorgio is facing  money-laundering accusations alongside his brother Alfred and partner, Anca Adelina Pop, after investigations into the journalist’s assassination two years ago had roused suspicion about the Degiorgios lavish lifestyle.

Although both men claimed to be unemployed, did not file tax returns and had mostly dormant bank accounts, their lifestyle, including luxury cars and pleasure boats, appeared to indicate otherwise. 

When the case continued in court, Magistrate Joseph Mifsud asked Mr Degiorgio’s lawyer, William Cuschieri, to explain what had prompted the request for a constitutional reference to the First Hall of the Civil Court. 

“An affidavit is a testimony under oath. I had registered my objection on the very same day it was presented [in the criminal proceedings],” explained Dr Cuschieri, pointing out that such a recorded testimony impinged upon Mr Degiorgio’s right to silence. 

Mr Degiorgio had not answered questions under interrogation and therefore, the prosecution had “fished out” evidence by getting his affidavit from a totally separate civil case.

The affidavit had been drawn up in 2013, before any investigations and criminal proceedings had kicked off, countered Elaine Mercieca, lawyer from the Attorney General’s Office.

“The police commissioner must bring all proof, both in favour and against the accused. The prosecution is the accused’s best friend. This is what the prosecution did. What was frivolous about this?” asked Dr Mercieca.

Moreover, this was not the sole proof, said the lawyer, adding that the affidavit was “a document not testimony.”

“If this case rested on a single piece of evidence, we wouldn’t be here,” argued Dr Mercieca.

However, Dr Cuschieri countered that the affidavit had been sought to replace evidence not given by the accused. “With all due respect, an affidavit is testimony. Call it what you may but it is evidence,” Mr Degiorgio’s lawyer said.

The court is expected to decree on the request in December.

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