Updated at 8.10pm with name of new magistrate 

Magistrate Charmaine Galea will be taking over from Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech who on Thursday morning recused herself from the compilation of evidence against three men accused of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Court-appointed lawyers for the accused, brothers Alfred Degiorgio (known as Il-Fulu) and George Degiorgio (Iċ-Ċiniz) as well as Vince Muscat, (known as il-koħħu) requested the recusal after Magistrate  Frendo Dimech declared in court at the start of proceedings this morning that she was in the same class at school  as one of Caruana Galizia's sisters, 20 years ago, and although they barely had contact since, other than an exchange of birthday greetings, they recently exchanged condolences after they both lost loved ones.

The prosecution and the family found no objection to the magistrate continuing to hear the case, but the defence argued that justice had to be seen to be done.

The case, which will continue next week, was assigned by the drawing of lots. 

In the compilation of evidence procedure, the magistrate has to decide if the evidence is enough for the accused to be put on trial.  

Follow proceedings as they happened below.

12.32 - Magistrate quotes Maltese and European caselaw on the impartiality of the judiciary, the need for justice to be seen to be done, and the grounds for recusal, or otherwise, in these situations.

She then announces she will recuse herself because justice has to be done and be seen to be done. 

12.25 - The session resumes. 

12.17 - Still waiting for the magistrate to enter the court room. Prosecutors are not present either. 

11.59 - A member of the public is removed from the court room after he tried to take a photo.

11.59 - The accused are back in the dock, handcuffs removed.

11.53 - People start to gather in the hall for the resumption of the sitting.

The Degiorgio brothers allegedly set off the bomb.The Degiorgio brothers allegedly set off the bomb.

Below are developments this morning before the defence requested the recusal of the magistrate. 

READ: Three accused of Daphne Caruana Galizia murder as widower looks on

10.10 - The sitting has been suspended until noon for the magistrate to decide.

10.08 - The defence points out that an appeals court had found that in the priests abuse case that justice could have not been seen to be done.

10.05 - Parte Civile lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia says  the victim was a public and well known person, as was her husband, particularly in the court, where he works to this day. If a recusal was granted now, it would raise questions over almost all the members of the judiciary as they would have known the husband.

In the priests abuse case, the accused were priests, so there was a direct representation of the church. In this case the magistrate sat on a school bench, with some 20 other children, decades ago.

10.02 - Defence says every step of the process is vital.

9.58 - Dr Valenzia refers to a similar issue raised in the case accused of child abuse by priests, where a judge was asked to recluse himself for having worked with Radju Marija.  

The prosecution counters that the rules governing court proceedings list instances where the court would be prejudiced, and the giving of condolences was not one of them. Also, Mr Justice Micallef was presiding over the merit (to decide guilty or innocence), while Magistrate Frendo Dimech was not deciding on the merit, but presiding over the compilation of evidence.

EU Council President Donald Tusk pays tribute to Daphne Caruana Galizia on Tuesday.EU Council President Donald Tusk pays tribute to Daphne Caruana Galizia on Tuesday.

9.55 - The magistrate asks how would her having known a member of the family stop justice from being done. Dr Fenech replies that although he has no concerns over her impartiality, he does not want any past contact to have any impact on the case.

9.50 - Sitting resumes. The prosecution says it has no objection to the magistrate continuing to hear the case but the accused have asked to have the magistrate replaced Lawyer Martin Fenech says that since there was a closeness between the magistrate and family...magistrates interjects, says there was no closeness. Dr Fenech says  justice should be seen to be done.

Dr Valenzia adds that he fears the relationship with family could pose future questions on the court proceedings.

9.44 - Magistrate announces that she was in class, in 1983, with one of Daphne Caruana Galizia's sisters.  The contact had been minimal since then and limited to hellos and goodbyes. However, recently they had exchanged condolences after discovering that both had lost loved ones.

The court is adjourned to allow the accused to discuss witht heir lawyers whether they feel this constitutes a conflict.

9.39Magistrate asks the accused individually if they would like to have a lawyer appointed. They say yes. Lawyers Martin Fenech (representing Vince Muscat),  Francine Abela (representing Alfred Degiorgio) and Benjamin Valenzia (representing George Degiorgio) are appointed as legal aid. 

9.34 - Magistrate tells the accused it is in their interests to have a lawyer. She also explains the process of the compilation of evidence. 

9.33 - The court is in session. 

9.32 - The court hall doors wing open and the accused are brought in. Their handcuffs are removed. All three are in suits today- they were in jeans and tracksuits when they were arraigned.

9.23 - Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, who will be hearing the compilation of evidence, arrives. 

The accused are escorted into the court building.The accused are escorted into the court building.

8.50 - The accused have been taken to court under heavy escort by armed police. They entered the court building in vans from the back.

The hall is still closed. A number of people are waiting outside, including members of Daphne Caruana Galizia's family led by her husband Peter and her parents.


Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed instantly when her car was blown up as she drove out of her residence.

It is understood that the evidence against the accused centres on telephone intercepts – known as triangulation data – that included the text message from a mobile phone which triggered the bomb. Experts from the American FBI and Europol assisted the Malta police in their investigations.

The mastermind behind the killing remains unknown.

READ: Brothers are key suspects in Caruana Galizia murder

READ: Daphne's murder plans hatched two months before – newspaper

READ: Daphne Caruana Galizia killed in Bidnija car blast 

Vince Muscat leaving the courts in 2014.Vince Muscat leaving the courts in 2014.

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