The first of three suspects who police believe was behind a double murder in Sliema made a brief appearance in court on Monday, as court proceedings against him got under way. 

Daniel Muka, 25, stands accused of murdering Christian Pandolfino and Ivor Maciejowski inside their Sliema home earlier this month. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

All eyes were on the suspect as he entered court wearing an orange jumpsuit, a face shield and green and yellow flipflops.

But the start of the compilation of evidence against him was put off to Thursday by magistrate Lia, after prosecutors said they had no witnesses to present yet, as an inquiry into the murders was still proceeding. 

Earlier, magistrate Lia noted for the record that she will appear as a civilian witness in a separate case concerning Muka, dating back to 2017 when he is alleged to have robbed a jewellery store in Sliema. 

The magistrate noted that neither party in the murder case had objected to her hearing the compilation of evidence against Muka.  

Muka was represented in court by lawyer Noel Bianco. Inspectors James Grech and Colin Sheldon prosecuted. Lawyer Roberta Bonello appeared on behalf of the victims' families.

The case continues on Thursday, September 3. 

As it happened

Live blog ends

11.56am This court hearing might be ending, but just down the hall another major case is under way.

Inspector Kurt Zahra is testifying in the case against Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech. Follow proceedings there with our live blog.

Thank you for having joined for this briefest of court hearings. We'll have a summary of proceedings available at the top of this article shortly. 

No witnesses yet 

11.52am  Prosecutors tell the court that they are not yet in a position to present any witnesses, due to an ongoing inquiry into the murders. 

The magistrate informs the lawyers that Muka’s compilation of evidence will begin on Thursday. 

And that’s that for today’s court hearing – Muka will be escorted back to Corradino Correctional Facility following his brief outing to Valletta.

So what was all that about? 

11.45am The magistrate dictates a note for the court records, in which she explains how she was selected to hear the compilation of evidence after her name was drawn by lot.

It appears the magistrate is a witness in the 2017 Diamonds International hold-up case which Muka also stands accused of. She makes reference to that case, describing it as an "alleged incident", in her dictated note, saying she has informed lawyers about her involvement in it.

The magistrate says the parties have not objected to her continuing to preside over this compilation of evidence. 

Magistrate reenters courtroom

11.40am Magistrate Lia returns to the courtroom. She again asks all parties to approach the bench for another word. 

Two dead, three suspects

11.32am Reminder: Muka is one of three suspects police say was involved in the murders of Pandolfino and Maciejowski. 

A second, Viktor Dragomanski, was also arraigned last week and has pleaded not guilty.

The third suspect was arrested in the south of Spain on Sunday, after police issued a European Arrest Warrant to capture him. He will now face extradition proceedings in Spain. If successful, he will be brought back to Malta to face murder charges.

Pause in proceedings

11.27am After a brief conversation with defence lawyers, prosecutors and the lawyer representing the victims' families, magistrate Lia exits the courtroom. We'll have to wait a bit longer for formal proceedings to get under way. 

Defence lawyer Bianco uses the time to have another word with his client. 

Magistrate demands a word

11.23am Magistrate Lia enters the courtroom and immediately asks all parties to approach the bench. Lawyers gather around to converse, but the discussion is out of earshot.

Muka in court

11.20am Muka has just been escorted into court by three guards, two of whom are armed. He's wearing an orange jumpsuit, a face shield and green and yellow flipflops, adding a dash of colour to the sombre courtroom.

His lawyer Bianco has a quiet word with him, as he waits in the dock. 

Lawyers in court

11.11am Muka was represented by lawyers Noel Bianco and George Anthony Buttigieg during his arraignment, while inspectors James Grech and Colin Sheldon prosecuted.

We've spotted Bianco as well as lawyer Roberta Bonello, who is appearing on behalf of the victims' families. Prosecutors have just entered the courtroom too.

Muka's second lawyer, Buttigieg, is not present today. But we're told he's still part of the accused's defence team. 

Magistrate Nadine Lia will be presiding.

Compilation of evidence to begin

11.05am Good morning. Murder suspect Daniel Muka will appear in court shortly, to face the first court hearing in the compilation of evidence against him. 

Muka was arrested last week in Floriana, after police matched his fingerprints with some found at the scene of the crime. 

Sources have said that he has told investigators that he was not the brains behind the crime. 

Muka was out on bail prior to last week’s arrest – he stands accused of attempting to kill police officers who arrested him in 2017 following a jewellery store heist in Tigne, Sliema, as well of taking part in that robbery. 

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