Hitman Vince Muscat has told a court that he drove George Degiorgio to Portomaso to meet with Chris Cardona and discuss a €150,000 hit on Daphne Caruana Galizia, three years before her eventual murder.
Muscat gave fresh details of the alleged aborted 2014 plot to kill the journalist when he testified on Tuesday in court action for damages instituted by her family.
The self-confessed killer, known as il-Koħħu, is serving a 15-year sentence for his role in the 2017 assassination of Caruana Galizia.
Testifying before Madam Justice Anna Felice, Muscat detailed his role as one of the three men involved in planting and detonating the bomb that killed the journalist.
He then elaborated on a previous attempt on her life, in a plot he said was masterminded by Cardona, the former economy minister and also included convicted hitman George Degiorgio.
Muscat described how "some three years before" the 2017 plot, Degiorgio had told him of a meeting with Cardona.
"I took him [Degiorgio] to Portomaso and dropped him off at the roundabout," he said, adding that later Degiorgio told him that the meeting was about settling the sum to "get rid" of Caruana Galizia.
"He did not tell me anything else. But those €150,000 came from there. In truth, I never saw Cardona but George told me that those €150,000 were coming from Cardona," Muscat said.
Cardona rented a one-bedroomed flat in Portomaso in 2014 and had denied a report by Caruana Galizia that the rent was being paid for by businessmen involved in the power station.
Muscat described spending "some days" on the lookout at Bidnija, where the journalist lived.
“But we saw nothing. It seemed as though no one lived there," he told the court. "George once even told me ‘let’s go into the parking area.’ We saw a BMW possibly used by is-Sinjura [Daphne Caruana Galizia].
Questions also focused on David Gatt whom Muscat had also linked to the botched murder plan in previous testimony before the Magistrates Court.
Gatt would regularly go to the Marsa potato sheds, the haunt of Muscat and fellow hitmen, brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio. Gatt would go there to drink with Degiorgio.
Muscat suggested that Gatt was "the broker [sensar]" in the murder plot, saying, "he used to be with Cardona.”
Degiorgio would pressure Gatt to get the money, to ask Cardona to pay, testified Muscat.
The witness was also cross-examined by lawyer Anna Mallia, assisting businessman Yorgen Fenech, who stands accused of complicity in the Caruana Galizia murder case.
Fenech’s lawyer asked if the witness had ever heard of Yorgen Fenech before the murder. Muscat replied, “No never. Until the bomb happened, no.”
He was also asked if he had ever said as much to [lead investigator Superintendent] Keith Arnaud? Muscat said that he “did not remember if he had.”
Lawyer Joseph Zammit Maempel, Peter Caruana Galizia, Eve Borg Costanzi and Matthew Cutajar represented the Caruana Galizia family. Lawyer Daniel Attard was assisting Muscat. Lawyers Alfred Abela and René Darmanin represented Robert and Adrian Agius. Lawyer Ishmael Psaila represented Jamie Vella. Lawyer Kathleen Calleja Grima and Matthew Brincat represented Melvin Theuma. Lawyers Gianluca Caruana Curran and Charles Mercieca also assisted Yorgen Fenech.