George and Alfred Degiorgio are requesting copies of statements given by their former co-accused Vince Muscat during investigations as well as the magisterial inquiry into the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination.
Their request was thrashed out on Wednesday morning when the brothers, accused of carrying out the car bomb explosion outside the journalist’s Bidnija home in October 2017, were escorted back to court.
The brothers, smartly dressed and under heavy security, sat in the dock, following the arguments put forward by their lawyer William Cuschieri and deputy attorney general Philip Galea Farrugia about their request for the additional evidence.
Their request was two-fold.
The Degiorgios sought a copy of all statements released by Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, in the course of police investigations into the murder.
They also wanted a copy of the sworn testimony given by the now self-confessed and convicted hitman in the Caruana Galizia magisterial inquiry.
The request was clear enough, but the manner whereby such information could be made available was a different matter, possibly giving rise to some complexity.
“Is it possible to present part of a statement or testimony? Or is it one whole thing? Is it possible to partition it and to draw a demarcation line,” questioned Madam Justice Edwina Grima, presiding over the murder proceedings.
Superintendent Keith Arnaud and Inspector Kurt Zahra, lead investigators in the Caruana Galizia murder, jointly took the witness stand to shed light on the matter.
Arnaud explained that Muscat’s audio-visual statements could be edited, leaving out any parts which were “over and above” the charges concerning the Degiorgios.
The first four DVDs concerned the Caruana Galizia case, however, care needed to be taken when editing because Muscat had occasionally shifted from one case to another, somewhat upsetting the chronological narrative.
Moreover, in these police statements, Muscat had not mentioned names, Arnaud pointed out, explaining that, at the time, Muscat had still been hoping for a presidential pardon.
Persons indicated by Muscat were only referred to as ‘A’, ‘B’ and so on, Arnaud said, adding that those recorded statements had not yet been transcribed.
The sworn testimony given before the inquiring magistrate was a different matter, Arnaud explained, pointing out that the hard copy could be edited by blanking out the parts that were not relevant to the Degiorgios case.
Following this explanation, the accused’s lawyer declared that should the court uphold the defence’s request, he would not object to getting just the relevant parts as redacted by the prosecuting officers.
Cuschieri argued that such “material evidence” was needed not only for the purpose of disclosure but also to be able to control Muscat’s testimony.
It was important for the defence, as much as the prosecution and the police, to have all the facts at hand, argued the lawyer.
However, Galea Farrugia rebutted that Muscat’s interviews with the police were “voluntary information” given without caution and for a specific purpose, namely to secure a presidential pardon.
Consequently, they did not amount to “material evidence” to be used in the Degiorgios case, argued the deputy AG.
The sworn testimony given before the inquiring magistrate was a different matter, said Galea Farrugia.
“I’d be more inclined to exhibit that,” he said.
Madam Justice Grima stated that she would decree upon the matter in chambers, indicating which, if any, of the requested evidence was to be allowed.
Meanwhile, Muscat’s cross-examination by the Degiorgios’ lawyer is set to continue when the compilation of evidence resumes before the Magistrates’ Court.
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