Updated at 4.05pm

Three men accused of murdering journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia will stand trial after prosecutors issued a bill of indictment on Tuesday. 

Vincent Muscat and Degiorgio brothers Alfred and George were arrested in December 2017 and have spent the past 19 months in and out of court as prosecutors presented evidence they had compiled against them.

A bill of indictment is a formal legal document accusing specific people of a criminal act and leads to them standing trial for their alleged crimes.  According to Maltese law, suspects must be served with a bill of indictment within 20 months of facing charges or else be eligible for bail.

Vince Muscat (centre) and brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio.Vince Muscat (centre) and brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio.

Sources told Times of Malta that the indictment was filed on Tuesday morning, just a few days from the final expiration of the 20-month period.

Although legal experts had told The Sunday Times of Malta that the chances of the three Caruana Galizia murder suspects being bailed was extremely unlikely, by issuing a bill of indictment prosecutors have now slammed the door shut on that possibility ever materialising.

In a statement, the government said the bill of indictment was "further proof of the commitment and good functioning of the Maltese institutions".

What the indictment lists

The 18-page bill of indictment, signed by Deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia details the alleged criminal offences committed by the three men. It lists six accusations against them including voluntary homicide, the possession and detonation of an explosive, as well as forming part of a criminal organisation.

Sources said the prosecution wanted the accused to eventually be handed life sentences, over other shorter sentences. 

The late journalist was killed on October 16, 2017.

The indictment details how she had driven her leased Peugeot 108 out of the lane leading to her home onto Triq il-Bidnija when a bomb placed under the driver’s seat was detonated by SMS.

It states that police investigation uncovered how the murder was planned and executed by George Degiorgio, his brother Alfred and Vincent Muscat.

The indictment also details how experts from the Netherlands Forensic Institute, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Europol were all involved in the lengthy investigation.

The murder plot had allegedly been hatched a while before her murder and the alleged killers had been watching the late journalist since at least August 2017.

The indictment also details how George Degiorgio had gone out to sea on his brother Alfred’s boat on the day of the murder.

When Alfred had caught sight of Ms Caruana Galizia leaving her home he informed his brother, who sent the fatal SMS which detonated the bomb. The indictment says it was the meticulous planning of the act, its execution, and the level of explosives used that indicated a clear intent to kill Ms Caruana Galizia.

Amended July 17: There is no time limit for the trial to begin.

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