The three men charged with the assassination of blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia allegedly started plotting the murder two months before October 16, according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
The paper on Thursday revealed a number of details about the investigation citing unnamed sources, saying that brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio, as well as Vince Muscat, had worked out the details of the car bomb – but that an unexpected hitch may have ultimately led to their capture.
The trio allegedly planted the bomb inside Ms Caruana Galizia's car at 2am and Alfred Degiorgio and Mr Muscat waited for the afternoon to confirm her movements. However, George Degiorgio, who was at time waiting off the coast in a cabin cruiser, realised to his dismay that the pre-paid mobile phone he intended to use to detonate the bomb was out of credit, the newspaper said.
It claimed that he had to use another mobile phone – one that was registered in his name – to call the telephone service provider and get a top up. Seemingly oblivious to the fact that this would lead back to him, he then allegedly called the detonator and set off the bomb.
The newspaper also reproduced a chilling text lifted from the mobile phone of George Degiorgio’s wife: just 25 minutes after the murder, he said: “Open a bottle of wine for me, baby”.
Three men, all well known in criminal circles, were arraigned before a magistrate on Tuesday evening and accused of the murder of blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia. All pleaded not guilty.
They will now appear in court before Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech next week, when the compilation of evidence against them gets underway. Magistrate Frendo Dimech was selected to lead the case by lot on Wednesday morning.
More calls for an independent investigation
Meanwhile, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Thursday joined the Institute of Maltese Journalists (IMJ), in welcoming the charges against three suspects in the killing, but has also highlighted the need for an impartial investigation into the evidence.
FJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “Although we join our affiliate in welcoming the recent arrests and charges against these suspects, and due to the claims of Daphne’s family, we urge for an independent and impartial investigation to be done, not only covering the superficial evidence of the killing but also going until the very end of the information Daphne was digging into. A proper fair trial would be the best tribute to honour her memory and her legacy following all the years she has worked as investigative journalist in Malta.”