Updated 12.58pm

A man who introduced himself as “Jamie” approached a relative of Daphne Caruana Galizia killer Vince Muscat with an offer to pay his wife €1,500 a month if he kept quiet about two men accused of supplying the bomb that killed her, a court heard on Wednesday. 

The stranger, who was described as being “around five foot five”, in his 30s and with short brown hair, said that the money would be paid if Muscat did not mention “me or Robert” to the police, Muscat’s relative testified. 

Muscat’s relative was appearing as a witness in the case against Robert Agius, Adrian Agius, Jamie Vella and George Degiorgio. The four men face various charges related to the 2017 murder of Caruana Galizia and 2015 murder of lawyer Carmel Chircop. They are pleading not guilty. 

Police pressed charges against the four after Muscat reached a plea deal with prosecutors, admitting to his role in both murders in exchange for evidence concerning those crimes. 

Muscat has told investigators that Robert Agius and Jamie Vella supplied the Caruana Galizia bomb, showed them how to detonate it and even got them a car identical to the journalist’s, to allow them to practice picking its lock. 

A court heard on Tuesday how Muscat’s relative, who cannot be named by court order, had presented the hush money offer to Muscat’s wife. She refused it and he conveyed that reply to “Jamie” when he returned to the bar seeking an answer.

But despite providing a physical description of the stranger who approached him, Muscat’s relative was unable to identify him in a police lineup, the court heard.
“He was far away,” the witness told the court when confronted with that fact by defence lawyer Alfred Abela. 

The witness was also unable to say with any specificity when exactly the stranger had approached him, saying that it was at some point last year and that “it was hot” at the time. 

“I don’t think it was 10 months ago,” the witness said. "I don't keep track. I don't count the days." 

Times of Malta had first revealed that Muscat's relatives had been offered hush money in October 2020

On Wednesday, the court also heard that: 

• Robert Agius’ phone was linked to a cell tower in Bidnija on the day Caruana Galizia was killed. He told the police when questioned back in 2017 that he passed through the area as he lived in Mġarr at the time. 

• A man who leased a garage on Robert Agius’ behalf had a €96,000 debt with him dating back more than 25 years. He did as Agius wanted and rented the garage for him because he owed him. 

• The garage was owned by John Camilleri, known as ‘Giovann tas-Sapun’, who was killed in a car bomb blas in Bugibba in 2016. 

• 350g of a suspicious brown substance found in Adrian Agius’ car was heroin. 

• None of the four accused answered any questions when interrogated by the police following their arrest 

Left: Robert Agius, Adrian Agius, George Degiorgio and an as-yet unseen Jamie Vella. The four face charges in the murders of Daphne Caruana Galizia (top right) and Carmel ChircopLeft: Robert Agius, Adrian Agius, George Degiorgio and an as-yet unseen Jamie Vella. The four face charges in the murders of Daphne Caruana Galizia (top right) and Carmel Chircop

As it happened

Live blog ends

12.34pm That’s all from today’s live blog. We will have a summary of key events available at the top of this article shortly. 

Thank you for having joined us, but don't go too far - the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry begins at 1.30pm and we will be keeping you informed of proceedings there too. 

Case deferred to March 22

12.29pm That will wrap up today’s proceedings. The magistrate defers the case to Monday, March 22 at 8.30am.

 Azzopardi: 'I was only joking'

12.25pm Jason Azzopardi was given a dressing down by the magistrate earlier, after he allegedly threatened to fail a court registrar in her university exam if she cited a decree issued today in her exam paper. 

He tells the court that he was only joking. 

“I said what I did jokingly,” he says. “I am not even an examiner for year 5 [law faculty] students.” 

He says he would like to apologise if his words were misunderstood and reaffirms his respect towards the magistrate.

Apology accepted, magistrate Farrugia Frendo tells him. 

'Useless duplication'

12.20pm Degiorgio’s lawyer, William Checuti, argues his side. 

The court has three separate cases to handle here, he says – one concerning Caruana Galizia’s murder, one concerning Chircop’s murder, and one concerning drugs.

His client has already been through a compilation that has been reopened to hear a new witness [Melvin Theuma] and will resume tomorrow [Thursday] to hear the testimony of Vince Muscat. 

“We’ve been through all those months of testimonies and now have to hear it all over again,” Chetcuti argues.  "There is useless duplication. I only want my client to bear his own cross, not someone else's." 


AG objects to Degiorgio's bid for separate proceedings 

12.14pm The inspector is done testifying, and the court is now keen to hear more about an application filed by Degiorgio’s lawyer yesterday, to have him tried separately from the rest. 

Degiorgios is arguing that he is already facing a compilation of evidence related to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and should not have to repeat that process in this case. 

The attorney general’s lawyer, George Camilleri, argues that the request must come from their side, not the defence’s, and that they are objecting to it. 

“This case concerns a criminal gang that committed various crimes, always involving the same people. As a matter of fact and evidence, it’s one and the same criminal group.”

He says that even if they were to opt for separate proceedings, the law allows charges to be regrouped at the bill of indictment stage. 

George Degiorgio being taken to court for his arraignment in this case last month.George Degiorgio being taken to court for his arraignment in this case last month.

Defence questions inspector

12.07pm Pawney is asked questions by defence lawyer Alfred Abela. He confirms that people identifying individuals in a parade cannot be seen by those on the other side of the glass screen. 

Abela asks about the distance at which witnesses are asked to identify suspects [earlier today, a witness told the court that he could not recognise a suspect in a police parade because “he was far away”.]

The inspector likens the distance to that from the witness stand to the deputy registrar's desk in the courtroom. 

Robert Agius, Vella did not answer questions in interrogation 

12pm Pawney says that Robert Agius and eight men who resemble him were included in a police identification parade. Magistrate Neville Camilleri was present. 

He reveals that Agius and Jamie Vella also chose not to answer any questions during his police interrogation. 

Inspector Shawn Pawney testifies

11.55am Inspector Shawn Pawney is the next witness. He forms part of the police’s homicide squad. 

Pawney was involved in investigations leading up to the arrest of the Agius brothers and Jamie Vella and coordinated the operation from police headquarters, he tells the court.

 Removing the safe 

11.53am Police found a safe in a bedroom at the Mellieħa house, the witness says. 

Adrian Agius.Adrian Agius.

Adrian Agius told the police he did not have a key to it and that it belonged to the property owner. 

“You’d do me a favour if you remove it,” he told them. The safe was opened yesterday, with court-appointed experts present (It was empty). 

Agius needed a prescription for medication he took but had declined medical aid, the witness says. 

Packet beneath the car

11.50am There were two packets of the brownish substance, the witness reveals: a passerby had noticed Agius throwing something beneath his car.  

Agius’ car was taken into police custody and investigators then searched his Mellieħa home. They seized two laptops, eight hard drives, and various other items which inspector Pawney testified about a few minutes prior. 

Brownish substance

11.47am More items seized: Four plastic folders with documents inside them, and other vehicle documents, as well as a Vodafone SIM card. 

Under the driver’s seat, they found a compartment. Inside it was a transparent full of a brownish substance.

There was a laptop in the car’s boot and documents related to an Egyptian national.

Items seized 

11.42am The sergeant runs through some of the items seized from the car: a black bag with a Samsung phone in it, €3,000 in cash, a black Hugo Boss wallet with nine €50 notes and some other cash, a Visa credit card and some other bank cards. 

There were also two other phones seized, as well as an A4 sheet of paper, folded in four, with numbers and initials written on it. 

"Those were sums of money," the witness says.  

Catching Adrian Agius

11.41am A sergeant Pace from the police's homicide squad is next to testify. He was involved in searches related to the arrest of Adrian Agius.

Both Agius brothers were arrested in Baħrija, with Adrian arrested close to his Seat Leon as he was on Triq Sajf ta’ San Martin.

Agius and Degiorgio's right to remain silent

11.36am Camilleri was also involved in interrogating Agius and George Degiorgio. He says neither man replied to questions and availed themselves of their right to remain silent. 

Both men had lawyers present during their interrogations – the same lawyers representing them in court today. 

No further questions from the prosecution. 

Inspector testifies about Adrian Agius arrest

11.33am Inspector Wayne Camilleri is the next witness.

Camilleri was involved in arresting Adrian Agius last month. He says he searched cars and Agius’ house in Mellieħa, seizing two laptops, mobile phones, five SIM starter packs and three top-up cards, among other things.

Police also seized a safe they found at the house and opened it up yesterday, but found nothing inside.  

A drug expert has confirmed that 350g of a suspicious substance seized during the arrest is heroin, he adds.

Jason Azzopardi admonished by magistrate

11.28am Before we can get under way, the magistrate admonishes Jason Azzopardi. 

She says Azzopardi sought a copy of a decree she passed earlier today and then threatened a court registrar, who is a faculty of law student, telling her he would fail her if she quoted from the decree in her exam. 

Azzopardi lectures principles of criminal law at the University of Malta. 

“The registrar is the long arm of the court and such behaviour is deplorable,” the magistrate tells Azzopardi. 

Farrugia Frendo says she will be reporting this to court authorities. 

“He was warned earlier and still persists,” she adds. 

Azzopardi remains silent. 

Case resumes 

11.23am The magistrate returns to the courtroom and the case can resume. 

What we've heard so far

11.20am We're still waiting for the case to resume. Here's a summary of the key points of testimony so far. 

• A stranger who identified himself as “Jamie” approached a man close to Vince Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, and told him that “he and Robert” would pay Muscat’s wife €1,500 a month if he did not mention them to the police.  

• The man relayed to offer to Muscat’s wife, who refused it. 

• The man was however unable to identify ‘Jamie’ in a police identification parade.  

• Robert Agius’ phone was linked to a cell tower in Bidnija on the day Caruana Galizia was killed. He told the police that he passed through the area as he lived in Mġarr at the time. 

• A man who leased a garage on Robert Agius’ behalf had a €96,000 debt with him dating back more than 25 years. He did as Agius wanted and rented the garage for him because he owed him. 

• The garage was owned by John Camilleri, known as ‘Giovann tas-Sapun’, who was killed in a car bomb blas in Bugibba in 2016. 

A 20-minute break

10.48am Magistrate Farrugia Frendo calls a 20-minute recess.

Questions from the defence

10.45am Defence lawyer Alfred Abela has some questions. 

Bugeja confirms that police spoke to him around one week ago and confirms that he was aware that “Maksar” had been arrested and arraigned.

“I saw the news,” he says.

Abela: So you don’t really know who used this garage? 

Bugeja: No. 

No further questions for the witness by the defence.

Garage keys and rent

10.38am Bugeja paid €700 a year for the garage, and Robert Agius gave him the money. Bugeja tells the court he made two payments. 

“Giovann’s son-in-law gave me the keys. I then handed them to Robert. There was an outer door, a garage door plus a remote.”

Bugeja says the garage was a one-car one. He identifies the garage in a photo, marking it with an X and signing the paper. 

'I owed Robert, so I agreed to do it' 

10.31am Arnaud shows the witness three photos. He asks him to identify the first one. 

“Mosta, I recognise the street. It’s where we rented the garage,” Bugeja says. 

Arnaud picks up on the verb tense used. “We rented, or you rented?” 

“I rented,” Bugeja corrects himself, saying he rented it for Robert Agius from "Giovann of Soap and Sponge". 

['Giovann' is John Camilleri, who was killed in a bomb blast in 2016 in Buġibba]

Bugeja says he spoke to the boyfriend of Giovann's daughter, as Giovann was already dead at the time. This must have been "three or four years ago", he says. 

"Robert told me he needed a garage. He said 'register it under your name'. I did nothing wrong. He told me he needed to garage a car. I owed him, so I agreed to do it." 

A €96k debt to Maksar

10.27am Bugeja confirms that he is indebted to Robert Agius, over two trailers' worth of goods he received back in 1996.

The products were worth some €96,000, Arnaud tells the court. Some of it remains unsettled to this day, he confirms.  

Bugeja says he would pay Agius money whenever he could, directly in cash. 

Going bust

10.24am Bugeja says his venture was short-lived, as he went bust and his Magħtab garage was robbed. 

“I used to buy from the Italian on credit,  but he came and took everything and sold it to someone else,” he says. 

 Storing detergents 

10.21am The witness says he met Agius on the catamaran. The garage he leased belonged to a man from Qormi. Bugeja used it to store detergents which he then sold to shops. 

Bugeja says he would rent three garages from 'Maksar' in Magħtab, to use to store detergents. That goes back 10 years "for sure". 

'Robert Maksar'

10.17am Bugeja is asked whether he owns property. He says he rents property from “Maksar”. 

Who’s Maksar? 

“Robert Maksar. Robert Agius.” 

The witness is asked to identify him... and points at defence lawyer Rene Darmanin. 

The magistrate asks everyone to lower their masks, to make identification easier. After some confusion, the witness singles out Robert Agius. 


John Bugeja testifies

10.15am The next witness is John Bugeja – the man who allegedly leased a garage on Robert Agius’ behalf. 

But it seems Bugeja is hard of hearing. He’s asked for his father’s name several times but says he cannot make out the question. 

Bugeja is now unemployed but previously used to import detergents from Italy.

Witness ends testimony

10.12am The witness, who is elderly and speaks softly, is allowed to leave.

Timeline confusion

10.10am Arnaud asks the witness to recall if there was any particular event around the time the stranger named “Jamie” went to the bar.

The witness says he does not. “It was Saturday morning. I was wearing a shirt. It was hot.” 

The magistrate points out that the witness first said the incident was five months ago, and then 10. 

“I don’t think it was 10 months ago,” the witness says. "I don't keep track. I don't count the days." 

'Dak ta' Tumas' 

10.06am Superintendent Arnaud would like the witness to clarify something: did the stranger tell him in what context Vince Muscat was not to mention them? 
The witness says no, the man did not say. 

“He told me to tell Vince in prison not to mention Jamie or Robert and they would give his wife €1,500 a month.”

Arnaud asks the witness if he knows why Vince Muscat is in jail.

“About Caruana Galizia’s murder.” 

What else? 

“About the Degiorgios and that guy of Tumas (dak ta’ Tumas). I don’t even care what his name is,” he adds. 

Witness unable to identify stranger 

9.57am  Abela continues his questioning. 

He tells the witness that when he (the witness) went to police HQ and with a magistrate present, he was unable to recognise this man.

“He was standing in front of you behind the glass. The magistrate asked you to go out and back in, but you didn’t recognise him.”

Witness: “But he was far away, as far as the distance between me and the magistrate.” 

Abela warns the witness that he is under oath and tells him “there’s no more than five feet distance in the identification parade room.”

Defence questions witness

9.51am Defence lawyer Alfred Abela takes over questioning. 

“So you were at the bar when this stranger came to you and asked you to talk,” he begins. “Did he ask you to follow him outside?” 

The witness says the man sat next to him, asked his name and asked him to follow him outside to talk, as it was a bit noisy inside. 

“Weren’t you afraid of going outside with a total stranger?”

“I did question myself, but it was daytime. The conversation lasted five to 10 minutes.” 

Abela asks the witness whether he was at the bar when the stranger returned for a reply. 

“Yes, I was inside and I recognised him. We went outside. I made it clear I didn’t want to speak in there.” 

The witness says he told the stranger that the answer was "no" and went back inside. 

"I acted uncivilised [Għamiltha ta' salvaġġ]. It lasted three minutes." 

Loyal patron 

9.47am Azzopardi resumes his questioning. 

The witness says it must have been around 10.30am or 11am when the stranger approached him. He says he has been going to this bar for 50-odd years. 

Did he recall anything similar ever happening, Azzopardi asks. 

Never, the witness replies. 

Can parte civile lawyers cross-examine? 

9.41am In a nutshell: the defence argues that parte civile lawyers cannot cross-examine witnesses produced by the prosecution, as they sit on the same side. The parte civile lawyers, of course, disagree. 

Magistrate Farrugia Frendo cites legal provisions concerning cross-examinations. She says direct or leading questions are not allowed, but that parte civile and prosecution work together to strengthen charges. 

The questioning is allowed and the witness can reenter the courtroom. 

Witness and Marsa

9.32am Jason Azzopardi has some questions for the witness. He asks him whether he is familiar with the Triq Balbi area of Mosta. 

The question draws objections from the defence. 

As the court thrashes out the procedural matter, the witness is asked to leave the room.

'We weren't wearing masks'

9.28am Superintendent Arnaud asks the witness if masks were mandatory at the time. [Masks were made mandatory as of October 17, 2020]. 

The witness says he doesn't know, but they were not wearing masks. 

Arnaud notes that the witness approached the police "five months ago". 

The witness says the bar incident was probably two or three months before that, "so it must have happened around nine months ago". 

Offer refused

9.26am “Jamie” returned after five days, the witness continues. 

He told him that the offer was not accepted, and went back into the bar to avoid having to speak to the stranger any further. 

The witness says he did not recognise the man when presented with a line-up parade by the police. 

"I only saw this guy once and I’m not the type to stare at people," he tells the court. 

'How tall was this man?' 

9.20am The witness says the stranger was a youngish man in his 30s. 

The other man, “Robert”, had never approached him. But this “Jamie” had pointed him out to him – he was across the street, standing next to a car on the pavement. 

"How tall was this man?" the witness is asked. 

"Around 5 feet 5", he replies. "Not too thin and not too fat. Short hair, crew cut style. Not white. Not ginger, somewhat brown." 

The witness is asked what, specifically, the proposal was. 

"For Censu [Vince] not to mention them, and the man and his friend would each give him €750 a month". 

The witness told the stranger he would take the offer to Vincent's wife, but she would probably refuse it. The stranger was due to return four days later for an answer. 

Hush money offer

9.18am  The man tells the court that he was in a bar in Marsa when a “Jamie” came to speak to him. The man says he did not know him. 

He asked him “can I speak to you about Vince?”

The two men went outside, and the man asked him if it was possible for Vince not to mention “me or Robert”. 

“We’ll give his wife €1500 monthly. We’re ready to do so,” the man recalls the stranger telling him.

The witness told his relative about the offer. Vince’s wife refused it. The witness says he was pleased about that.

The encounter happened around September/October of last year.

No names

9.12am The next witness is to be called, but Vince Muscat’s lawyer, Marc Sant, wants the court to forbid any reporting of the names mentioned. 

Alfred Abela, representing the Agius brothers and Vella, disagrees.

The magistrate agrees with Sant this time – the media can report the man's testimony, but not his name or that of people he mentions.

Photos of garage

9.08am Arnaud also presents photos - and a Google Maps printout - of the garage which the alleged killers used to store the bomb used to blow up Caruana Galizia. 

The court heard yesterday that the garage was leased by a man on Robert Agius' behalf. 

Robert Agius and Adrian Agius during their arraignment last month. Photo: Matthew MirabelliRobert Agius and Adrian Agius during their arraignment last month. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

What did Agius and Vella tell the police? 

9.05am Arnaud tells the court about their 2017 interrogations. 

Vella had denied any involvement in Caruana Galizia’s murder when was interrogated. He lived in Swieqi at the time but admitted that he had previously lived in Santa Venera for some months. 

[The court heard about his Santa Venera apartment yesterday – Muscat told the police that himself, Vella and Degiorgio went there after killing Chircop, to change clothes and split up]. 

As for Robert Agius:  on the day of the murder, his phone was linked to a cell tower in Bidnija (where Caruana Galizia was killed). He told the police that he used to drive through there because he lived in Mġarr at the time. 

Agius also told the police that he had visited Vella’s farm to see some ponies for his children. He told investigators his relationship with Alfred Degiorgio was a “hi and bye” one. He was friendlier with George, but claimed to have distanced himself recently because “they were not his type”.

Statements given to the police

9.02am Arnaud also presents other evidence - statements given by Adrian Agius when he was interrogated following Chircop’s murder in 2015, and others given Jamie Vella and Robert Agius to the police back in December 2017. 

Vella and the Agius brothers were among the 10 people arrested when the police raided a potato shed in Marsa. Three of the 10 ended up being charged with Caruana Galizia’s murder – George Degiorgio, his brother Alfred and Vince Muscat, whose evidence is key in this case. 

Who are the lawyers? 

8.57am Reminder: The Caruana Galizia is represented by Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia. 

The Chircop family is represented by Vincent Galea. 

The Agius brothers and Jamie Vella are represented by Alfred Abela and Rene Darmanin. George Degiorgio is represented by William Chetcuti. 

Superintendent Arnaud is leading the prosecution. 

The Chircop's lawyer, Vincent Galea, is assured he will get a copy of Arnaud's notes. It seems there aren't enough copies to go round. 

Arnaud presents notes

8.55am Superintendent Keith Arnaud presents the court with some notes he referred to during yesterday’s testimony – typed up notes regarding the Chircop murder and handwritten ones concerning that of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Koħħu's lawyer in court

8.52am There’s one additional lawyer in court today: Vince Muscat’s legal representative, Marc Sant. 

Court session begins

8.50am Magistrate Farrugia Frendo enters the courtroom and the case can begin. All four accused men are in the dock, with Jamie Vella again in white PPE, as a COVID-19 precaution [Vella was recovering from the virus when he was arrested late last month]. 

Hall 22 

8.45am Today’s court hearing, like yesterday’s, will be held in hall 22, which is large enough to host the parties, armed guards and journalists without them having to remain in overly close quarters.

What happened yesterday? 

8.40am Superintendent Keith Arnaud spent more than three hours testifying on Tuesday, taking the court over details the police have gleaned about the murders of Caruana Galizia and Chircop. 

The court heard how the alleged Caruana Galizia killers were given a car just like hers to practice picking its lock and were given the bomb and shown how to use it by Robert Agius and Vella. 

It also heard details of how Chircop's murder was allegedly planned and carried out, with the Agius brothers supplying the weapons, Vella firing the shots and Degiorgio driving the getaway car. 

Much of that information has been supplied by Vince Muscat, who has agreed to testify in exchange for a 15-year sentence in the Caruana Galizia case and presidential pardon in the Chircop one. 

Read all about Tuesday's evidence in court.


8.30am Good morning and welcome to this live blog. It's the second consecutive day in court for this case, which began in earnest yesterday after an initial hearing focused on the recusal of magistrate Nadine Lia. 

Lia accepted that request and the case is now being presided by magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo. 


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