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READ: Killer phone calls, DNA traces and a husband's tragic testimony

3.43pm If you missed the day's events and don't have time for a minute-by-minute account, have a read of our summary story

2.50pm Thank you for joining us for this live blog. We'll have a round-up of the day's events online shortly, and we will of course be back tomorrow to keep you informed of events in court. 

2.45pm Dr Caruana Galizia is done testifying, and magistrate Stafrace Zammit calls it a day.

The compilation of evidence will continue on Thursday morning at 10am. 

2.43pm His wife had only relented and got herself a smart phone - a Samsung - in the past two years, he says.

"Before that she had a Nokia, perhaps a 105 like the accused," he says.  

2.38pm Their son Matthew made regular use of the leased car whenever he was in Malta, Dr Caruana Galizia says. But seeing as he lived abroad, it was most often used by his wife. 

2.36pm Dr Caruana Galizia tells the court how his wife would use his cheque book, since her bank accounts had been frozen [through precautionary warrants filed by minister Chris Cardona]

2.33pm Duty magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera had summoned [minister] Chris Cardona, [PM chief of staff] Keith Schembri and [OPM official] Neville Gafa' to testify, Dr Caruana Galizia tells the court, but their testimony was never heard as the magistrate was replaced with magistrate Anthony Vella. 

2.30pm Once they got home, he spotted inspector Zahra, who he did not know. 

"I asked, 'did she die?' and he said 'yes'". 

He then showed the inspector where they normally parked their cars. His wife usually parked inside the house gates, but for whatever reason his son had parked it in the alley the night before. 

Dr Caruana Galizia is now leafing through aerial photos, explaining locations and confirming where the car was parked. 

2.27pm The following day - Monday October 16 - he left the house in the morning and went to work. 

At 3pm, one of his sons came into his office, white as a sheet, and told him Matthew had called and said something had happened and they had to come home. 

They didn't know exactly what had happened, and the drive home was long and anxious, he recalls.  

2.23pm Dr Caruana Galizia tells the court that the day before his wife was murdered, he and his son Matthew met Daphne in Naxxar before heading to Floriana. Matthew drove her car there, with his wife riding with him. 

Once in Floriana, Matthew felt unwell and decided to return home, Dr Caruana Galizia says. He and his wife went to an open day, bought some saplings and then met with another of their sons in Floriana. 

They then returned home, had dinner and went to bed. 

2.20pm Inspector Zahra is done testifying. Peter Caruana Galizia is sworn in.

2.18pm Vince Muscat refused to give police a DNA sample when asked to do so at police headquarters, inspector Zahra says. The Degiorgio brothers did. 

2.10pm Peter Caruana Galizia told investigators that his wife was not very routine-driven: she often worked from various places. 

Investigators asked about her laptop, which wasn't found at the site of the explosion. "They turned and faced each other," he says. 

2.05pm There was a mix-up with the spare key, the inspector is recounting: the car hire representative left the spare key with the wrong mechanic.

Percius company owners contacted the mechanic, told him that he had been inadvertently left with a car key destined for another mechanic, and got it back.

2.03pm Ms Caruana Galizia had been involved in a minor crash in June. the inspector notes that the car was picked up for repairs by Percius car hire in September, while she was abroad. 

She left the car at her house, and a Percius representative picked it up on September 16, using a spare key, and took it to a repair garage.  

2pm Ms Caruana Galizia had planned on leasing the car for five years, the inspector tells the court. 

Investigators wanted to ascertain whether anyone could have gotten their hands on a spare key from the car leasing company, and checked CCTV footage of the office. 

1.53pm The day after the murder, on October 17, inspector Zahra and his colleague inspector Arnaud met the family together with magistrate Anthony Vella, who took over the reigns from Consuelo Scerri Herrera. 

They spoke with Ms Caruana Galizia's husband, three sons and sister Corinne. 

"We mapped out a timeline and top suspects from the family's side," he tells the court. 

Two days later, on the 19th, an FBI team arrived in Malta. 

1.51pm Another eyewitness, the inspector says, allegedly saw another car with a person inside it at the vantage point. 

"The witness said the car used to have a person inside it, doing nothing." 

A task force was set up to identify this mystery vehicle. 

1.49pm Inspector Zahra says officers at the scene came across a man who witnessed the explosion while driving towards Bidnija. 

The man, Frans Sant, told officers that right after the explosion, the car accelerated. He saw a woman panicking inside the vehicle for a few seconds. 

1.43pm Back in the courtroom - inspector Zahra tells the court of the scene he found when he first arrived on the scene - scorched tarmac and grass, a distraught sister of Ms Caruana Galizia's, and a scuffle between Matthew Caruana Galizia and a man, named as Mario Vella, on the scene who he [Matthew] said had been taking photos. 

1.42pm In separate news from Brussels: the European Commission has triggered article 7 proceedings against Poland, saying the rule of law in the country is "under threat". We'll be updating that story as it develops.

1.40pm The court is back in session. Prosecuting officer Kurt Zahra is testifying. 

1.31pm We're told the defence team will most likely wait for a full transcript of inspector Arnaud's testimony before asking to cross-examine him. 

1.20pm Here's a light lunchtime piece, though try not to choke on your sandwich when you see it. A graffiti scrawl by Valletta's entrance has been hastily covered over...using A4 print-outs.    

1.10pm We're roughly 20 minutes away from the court hearing resuming. 

In other news, long-standing MFSA chairman Joe Bannister is to step down on March 31. We'll be updating that story as more information comes through. 

12.40pm A recap of some of the key points from Inspector Arnaud's testimony this morning:  

  • Phone data showed that the three accused were together in Bidnija on October 9. Two of the three - Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat - were in Bidnija on multiple occasions in the days ahead of the murder.
     
  • AFM divers found George Degiorgio and Vince Muscat's personal phones in the sea by the Marsa shed raided by police early in December. 

  • When police raided the shed, they found various Nokia 105 phones - the same model they believe was used to send an SMS triggering the detonator. 

  • Forensic experts found traces of Alfred Degiorgio's DNA on a cigarette butt at a vantage point by tat-Tarġa Battery. 

  • One of the SIM cards under observation only went silent at 4pm on October 16 - one hour after the murder. During that time, it was tracked by a cell tower close to the Marsa shed the three accused were arrested at. The timing also coincided with CCTV footage showing one of the Degiorgio boats entering the Grand Harbour. 

  • All three refused to answer any questions while being interrogated. 

12.34pm For the first time, the accused are talking among themselves. Alfred Degiorgio announces he's going on hunger strike. 

"Why don't you let me decide [on prison conditions] first?" the magistrate asks him. 

Mr Degiorgio agrees to that. 

And with that, the magistrate announces a one-hour recess. The session will resume at 1.30pm. 

12.32pm Magistrate Stafrace Zammit has had enough of defence lawyer Martin Fenech's phone. If it rings again, she tells him, I'll turn it off for you. 

12.29pm We don't know what went on behind closed doors, but we do know that George Degiorgio is unhappy with the way he's being treated in prison. He says he is being made to sleep on a mattress on the floor and has a lack of outdoor time and fresh air. 

Prosecutors say the lack of a bed frame is to avoid self-harm, that the accused are being kept in acceptable conditions and that they're lucky to be in single cells. 

12.26pm We're back - the press are being allowed back into the courtroom. The director of prisons has just wrapped up her testimony. 

12.06pm Also in the news: the National Audit Office is sticking to its guns and saying some local councils, including Valletta's, unjustifiably missed audit deadlines.

We're also big fans of peer-to-peer accommodation services (read: Airbnb), new data shows. And if you're planning trips to or from Gozo during the festive season, keep ferry shutdown times in mind.

11.59am While we wait: Keith Schembri has denied repeatedly calling the FIAU in an attempt to get them off private banks' backs, saying the claims are "presumably based on hearsay" and that he made no contact "of any sort" with the unit. 

It all kicked off with a constitutional court hearing this morning, when Peter Caruana Galizia said his late wife had an FIAU source who told her of insistent calls from the Prime Minister's chief of staff. 

Read all about it.

11.55am Inspector Arnaud is done testifying. Next up, it's the acting director of prisons, Mariella Camilleri. 

She's here because George Degiorgio has said that he is being kept in poor conditions. 

The attorney general's office wants this part of the hearing to be conducted behind closed doors, citing "prison security". The defence is objecting. 

But magistrate Stafrace Zammit agrees with the prosecution, and the press is asked to wait outside. 

11.51am The inspector is now describing other intercepted phone calls which pricked up their ears. 

George Degiorgio allegedly told people he was going fishing on the day of the murder, later telling a friend he had caught "two big fish" but would give him details later. 

In an SMS sent shortly after the bomb which killed Ms Caruana Galizia went off, he told his partner "Buy me some wine, my love.

11.48am Remember inspector Arnaud describing a "fresh-looking" cigarette butt found at a vantage point by tat-Tarġa Battery? 

"Some five days after the arraignment, I was informed that it had Alfred Degiorgio's DNA on it," he tells the court. 

11.45am While under interrogation, the accused were asked open-ended questions ("Why was Daphne Caruana Galizia killed?"), confronted with information about phone intercepts and shown photos of all three together in the Marsa shed. They remained silent throughout. 

11.40am All three declined to have lawyers present during their police interrogations, and all three did not answer any questions. 

Vince Muscat gave his personal details and then stayed quiet; Alfred Degiorgio said he wouldn't answer questions; George Degiorgio just handed over his ID card and said nothing. 

The interrogations were recorded, and the footage is being exhibited in court. 

11.33am  Both cars, as well as Vince Muscat's, which was in Msida, were searched and taken to a police compound. Alfred's boat, the Maya, was also searched and towed, as was George's, the Ducu. 

11.30am The Degiorgio brothers' two cars - George's Audi and Alfred's Mercedes - were also parked by the shed.  

In total, investigators took eight phones from the shed. Among them were a number of Nokia 105 phones, inspector Arnaud says.

To recap, investigators believe the SMS which triggered the bomb detonator was sent from that same model phone. 

11.28am AFM divers checked the seabed around Alfred Degiorgio's boat, which was moored by the shed, and found three mobile phones underwater. 

One contained Vince Muscat's personal SIM, with the other two belonging to George Degiorgio, the inspector tells the court. 

11.25am All three accused were present while police searched the shed and took DNA swabs, lifted finger prints and took clothes as evidence from the site. 

11.22am When police raided the shed in Marsa, they found Alfred Degiorgio's phone on the floor, with its battery out and its SIM card lying on the floor. 

His brother George's personal phone was not found, the inspector says. He had a mobile phone number written on his wrist at the time of the arrest. 

11.17am The inspector is now discussing the police raids of Monday, December 4. An arrest warrant was issued on December 2, and police had prepared searches of the Marsa potato shed and the three men's homes. 

Vince Muscat had two residences, the Degiorgio brothers had one each, and police also raided a home in Mosta and garage in Żebbuġ. 

That large-scale police operation saw 10 people arrested, with the three accused among them. The other seven were released on police bail after 48 hours. Revisit that story.

11.11am Alfred Degiorgio's phone was tracked to Bidnija on October 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15.  Vince Muscat's phone data shows "practically the same" movements, the inspector says. 

Ms Caruana Galizia was assassinated on October 16. 

A separate SIM, which belonged to the same batch of SIMs the trigger SIM card came from, was also recorded in Bidnija on multiple occasions in the weeks leading up to the murder. 

11.08am Back to the murder pre-trial. Inspector Arnaud tells the court that the three accused's phones were all together in Bidnija on October 9 and on St Paul's Bay four days later, on October 13. 

Two of the phones - Vincent and Alfred's - were in Bidnija on the night of the bombing. 

Alfred's personal phone was switched off at 4am, and turned back on 20 minutes after the explosion. 

11am Meanwhile, you might want to have a read of what went on in another courtroom earlier this morning. Ms Caruana Galizia's husband Peter told a court that according to a source of his late wife's, the Prime Minister's chief of staff Keith Schembri kept pestering the FIAU with phone calls, urging them not to investigate private banks. 

Read the full story.

10.56am Inspector Arnaud tells the court that one SIM card which caught police's interest was only switched off at 4pm, one hour later.  

In that time, it was picked up by a cell tower in Marsa, close to the shed where the accused were arrested earlier this month. This tallied with CCTV footage of the Degiorgio boat as it entered the Grand Harbour. 

10.55am It took exactly 1 second for the SMS which was sent from out at sea to reach the SIM card in Bidnija, he says. 

Data showed that a number in Bidnija, presumably the spotter, made two calls to phone at sea that afternoon,  including a 107 second one which indicates the person on the line heard the explosion, he tells the court. 

10.53am The data suggests that whoever planted the bomb then spent the rest of the night watching the car, the inspectors tells the court. 

10.52am When the suspicious SIM card became active at 2am in Bidnija on the day of the murder, another SIM card which was also first activated in August was turned on. It was then tracked to Buġibba and St Paul's Bay the next day. 

10.50am We're in techie territory here: 58 pages of data from cell towers. 

A more accessible point for the less IT-minded: police know that the suspicious 2G device - in other words, that old Nokia phone - originally belonged to somebody else. At some point, Vodafone took it back, and subsequently released it, when it was used with these SIM cards. Police are working to identify who used to have the phone, though it doesn't seem to be a major concern. 

10.33am It's a tense atmosphere in the courtroom. The three men in the dock sit still.

The inspector is running through phone data, telling the court about the one suspicious device which was switched on at 2am in Bidnija on the day of the murder, and which received contact the moment the bomb was triggered. 

The other SIM - which he yesterday told the court was in an old Nokia 105 phone - was turned on three days prior, on October 13, in Ħamrun, and then switched back off. 

10.30am The inspector exhibits phone logs of the two suspicious SIM cards - one that sent the trigger text, and the one that, in his words "exploded the bomb". 

The information is pretty detailed: aside from listing contact between the two SIM cards, it also lists failed attempts to send an SMS. 

The inspector also presents information about the SIM cards' serial numbers, which are of course unique. 

10.25am Inspector Arnaud exhibits data from Vodafone cell towers. 

To paint a picture of how all this is playing out: Inspector Arnaud's prosecuting partner Kurt Zahra stands before the magistrate, occasionally asking him to flesh out information.

In essence, the deputy investigator is examining the lead investigator as the first witness. 

10.22am The two suspicious phone numbers identified by police only exchanged SMS texts, not phone calls, the inspector tells the court. 

10.20am Some more photos, and then the inspector moves on to discuss the explosive used. 

All the various bomb and crime scene experts agreed, he said - the bomb that killed Ms Caruana Galizia was placed under the car's driver seat

10.18am Murmurs of discontent from the defence team, who say the copies of the photos they've been given don't tally with those being exhibited. One of the three lawyers has a complete set - the other two have been given some duplicates. 

10.14am He exhibits nine Google Earth satellite photos showing anything from the Caruana Galizia residence to the bomb site or spot in which the suspiciously "fresh-looking" cigarette butt was found by tat-Tarġa battery. 

Other photos include a close-up of an alley by the Caruana Galizia family home and a few snapshots Inspector Arnaud took with his camera phone - photos of the suspected vantage point and others of the crime scene, which he took this month.  

10.12am The three accused men are in the dock.  Inspector Keith Arnaud has just been sworn in. 


10.06am
 Meanwhile, magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit's courtroom is practically full and proceedings will soon be underway. 

Let's just revisit the key players.

For the defence

  • Martin Fenech is appearing for Vince Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, 55 and from Msida
  • William Cuschieri and Martha Muscat are appearing for Alfred Degiorgio, known as il-Fulu, 53 and from St Paul's Bay
  • Josette Sultana is appearing for Alfred's brother George Degiorgio, known as iċ-Ċiniz 55, and also from St Paul's Bay

For the prosecution

  • Philip Galea Farrugia from the attorney general's office
  • Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra are prosecuting officers 

Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing parte civile

10am We'll have a separate story on that constitutional court case shortly. During an initial hearing last week, judge Silvio Meli had slammed a UK law firm which backed the Caruana Galizia's claims, and urged both parties to seek an amicable solution. 

9.55am Welcome to our live blog of today's court proceedings. It's been a busy start to the day at the Valletta courthouse - at 9am, lawyers for the Caruana Galizia family were busy in a separate courtroom, as part of a constitutional court application to remove deputy police commissioner Silvio Valletta from the murder investigation. 

The Caruana Galizia family say Mr Valletta's political connections - he is on the FIAU board and married to Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana - cast a shadow on the investigation's impartiality. 

 

Background

The compilation of evidence against three men accused of murdering journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia will continue in court this morning. 

Inspector Keith Arnaud is expected to again take the witness stand and continue where he left off yesterday evening, laying out the various pieces of evidence police have linking the October murder to Degiorgio brothers Alfred and George and Vincent Muscat. 

Ms Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb explosion in mid-October. During this pre-trial stage, the magistrate must decide whether there is sufficient evidence for the people accused of murdering her to stand trial for the crime. 

During yesterday's session, magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit heard that police, among other things: 

  • Used the FBI's help to home in on suspicious phone numbers, once which was linked to a remotely controlled device and which went active at 2am in Bidnija on the day of Ms Caruana Galzia's murder. It received an SMS at the time the bomb went off and immediately went off-radar. 

  • Believe that the phone which sent the bomb detonation SMS was an old Nokia 105 and that the trigger SMS was sent from out at sea.

READ: Compilation of evidence begins in Caruana Galizia murder case

  • Spotted one of the Degiorgio brothers' boats leaving the Grand Harbour at 8am on the day of the murder, and again just off Valletta minutes before the bomb went off.

  • Found pieces of plastic debris at the scene of the explosion, including one with the word "card" printed on it, which did not belong to the Peugeot Ms Caruana Galizia was driving.

  • Were already tapping George Degiorgio's phone at the time of the murder, and heard Mr Degiorgio call two separate people on the day of the murder to top up a separate number with €5 in credit.
     
  • Received reports of a suspicious car regularly parked by tat-Tarġa Battery - an ideal vantage point for the killers - in the days leading to the murder. The car was subsequently never seen there again. 

  • Found a "fresh-looking" cigarette butt under a tree at the tat-Tarġa vantage point which was sent for forensic analysis.

 

The court session will begin at 10am. Check back for regular updates from the courtroom.