Malta, Yet Again

Malta, Yet Again

By Peter H. Salus

While I have been most attentive to Catalonia, much has transpired in Malta.

According to Reuters:  “The bomb used to kill Maltese anti-corruption blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia was probably triggered by a call from a boat off Malta, an investigator said on Tuesday, laying out initial evidence against three suspects.  …

“One of the chief investigators, Keith Arnaud, described how a team from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, brought in by the Malta government to help solve the crime, had focused on a phone number which received a text message at the time of the explosion in Bidnija.

“Police say the number was not attached to a mobile phone but to a circuit board used in remote-control devices. The appliance was switched on at 2 a.m. local time in Bidnija on the day of the explosion and went off the grid at the time of the blast.

“Part of the circuit board was later found in the wreckage of the car.

“Cell phone data suggested the device was triggered by a call from off the coast. CCTV video showed a boat owned by the Degiorgio brothers putting to sea at around 8 a.m. on the day of the killing. It was later seen still at sea at 2.50 p.m. and was idling at the time of the explosion before returning to harbor.” [19 December]

The next day the court heard, “Police allege that George Degiorgio was sitting on a boat outside Valletta harbour on Oct. 16 when he sent an SMS which detonated the bomb as Caruana Galizia drove out of her village, Bidnija, in northern Malta.

“Mobile phone data showed that Degiorgio’s brother, Alfred, and another suspect, Vince Muscat, had repeatedly visited Bidnija in the days before the blast, police said. Forensic experts also found Alfred’s DNA on a discarded cigarette at a vantage point overlooking the village.” [Reuters, 20 December]

And on 21 December (last Thursday), Associated Press reported: “Three Maltese men believed to have triggered a powerful car bomb that killed investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia were ordered Thursday to stand trial for murder.

“A magistrate ruled that evidence including mobile data and DNA results presented during the preliminary hearing were enough to support charges against Alfred and George Degiorgio and Vincent Muscat for the Oct. 16 murder. No trial date has been set.”

Anyone who values freedom of the press and justice must wish the Magistrate a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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