Updated 4.58pm with the court's findings.
Brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, the hitmen sentenced for their role in Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder, have been found guilty of money laundering and condemned to a four-year effective jail term each.
They were also fined €25,000 each.
Together with George Degiorgio's partner, Anca Adelina Pop, the two brothers were charged with money laundering after investigations into Caruana Galizia's murder led to further criminal action against the brothers.
Since then, the Degiorgios have pleaded guilty to their role as hitmen in the assassination, subsequently filing an application to cancel the trial.
On Tuesday morning, Magistrate Joe Mifsud also found them guilty of money laundering.
Pop was acquitted.
In a 91-page judgment, the court also ordered the confiscation of a Mercedes vehicle and the leisure boat Maya belonging to Alfred Degiorgio.
An Audi car and pleasure craft Ducu registered in the other brother's name were also confiscated.
A Corvette convertible registered in Pop's name was also seized since the vehicle was effectively under her partner's control.
When delivering judgment the court observed that the Degiorgio brothers had produced “no plausible or lawful explanation” for the assets accumulated when their only lawful source of income were social benefits.
George Degiorgio’s bank account lay dormant since 2005, while he also had a bank loan and he was last gainfully occupied in 1982 when he worked in construction for a few months.
Yet, he covered tuition expenses for two children at a private school and purchased a yacht, the Maya, in 2017 for €30,000 in cash and registered it in his brother’s name.
He also owned another vessel, the Ducu, along with an Audi A4, a Mitsubishi L200 and a BMW 360D between 2013 and 2016.
His only lawful income between 2002 and 2018 were €104,600 derived from social benefits.
He was not registered for tax purposes and had no VAT number.
His brother Alfred lived in a rented apartment between August 2017 and November 2018, paying the landlord €800 monthly, always on time and in cash.
Between 2009 and 2019, he gambled some €600,000 at local casinos making more losses than winnings.
Between 2002 and 2018, he got €20,596.50 in social benefits, declared no income for tax purposes for the last 12 years, had no VAT number and no active bank accounts.
During the proceedings, the brothers were silent and produced no evidence to prove that their assets and funds were from a legitimate source, the court observed.
Moreover, they both had previous brushes with the law and were no newcomers in court, observed Magistrate Mifsud, finding sufficient evidence to prove the charge of recidivism.
Matters were different as far as Pop was concerned.
Although she had four cars registered in her name and was registered as self employed but never filed a tax return, charges against her were pinned solely upon the assertion that she benefited from her partner’s assets.
Yet the prosecution failed to prove the link between the funds at her disposal and any criminal activity.
She had a clean criminal record and was never criminally investigated, nor was there any indication “even remotely” that she was somehow involved in any criminal activity, the court said.
The fact that she had been with a partner, for some eight years or so, who was cast under a shadow over his possible involvement in criminal activities, was not enough, observed the court.
It would have been a completely different story had the woman been even “passively aware” of her partner’s alleged criminal activity in such manner as to suspect that the funds he gave her were possibly derived from an illicit source.
Rather, her defence produced and clearly explained the source of her funds, bringing her father and ex-husband to testify in the case.
A series of transactions amounting to €38,450.50 were effected over a span of five years, each transaction never exceeding €450.
Between 2013 and 2016 she received €17,700 from George Degiorgio who was at the time receiving social benefits for the couple’s child.
And as for the Corvette registered in her name, she only learnt about it when she received an overspeeding ticket.
On both occasions when police flagged down that vehicle, the driver was George Degiorgio and not his partner, observed the court, concluding that Pop was to be acquitted.
Inspector Lianne Bonello prosecuted.
Lawyers Roberto Montalto and Roberto Spiteri were counsel for Pop.
Lawyer Noel Bianco stepped in for the Degiorgios at judgment stage.