Daphne Caruana Galizia: suspect confesses to killing Maltese journalist

“If I had known, I would have gone for 10 million instead of 150,000,” he said, referring to the euro amount he said he was paid to kill the journalist.

“For me, it was just business. Yes. As usual!” he told a Reuters correspondent. He later added, “Of course I’m sorry.”

His confession comes after several attempts by DeGiorgio’s lawyers since 2021 to seek a pardon in exchange for testifying about DeGiorgio’s role in the murder of Caruana Galizia and other alleged crimes involving prominent figures on the island.

Maltese government should be held responsible for journalist's murder, investigators say

On June 22, the Malta Court of Appeal dismissed DeGiorgio’s remaining murder lawsuits against him and his brother Alfred, who is a co-defendant. The decision clears the way for the trial to continue.

The car bomb murder of an investigative journalist and blogger caused shock across Europe. Maltese authorities have accused DeGiorgio and two other men – his brother Alfred and accomplice Vince Muscat – of killing Caruana Galizia in October 2017 on the orders of a prominent island businessman.

DeGiorgio told Reuters he would plead guilty before a jury trial. “I’m going to speak to the magistrate,” he said. He indicated that he would testify to charge others with the murder and a previous unfulfilled plot to kill the journalist. According to him, his motive was to obtain a reduced sentence for himself and Alfred and to make sure “we don’t go down alone!”

So far, both DeGiorgio brothers have denied any involvement in the murder. Muscat pleaded guilty to murder charges in 2020 and was sentenced to a reduced sentence of up to 15 years in prison in exchange for testifying in the case and some other crimes.

In November 2019, Jorgen Fenech, one of the island’s richest businessmen, was also charged with instructing DeGiorgio and two of his accomplices to carry out the attack. Fenech denied the accusation, but has yet to present his defense. In a statement, his lawyer Gianluca Caruana Carrán said Fenech planned to prove in court that “he did not in any way want, actively seek or sponsor” the murder of Caruana Galizia.

“Acting strongly in his innocence, Mr. Fenech argues that, given the evidence, an independent and serious investigation could lead to the arrest and prosecution of the true perpetrators of the murder.”

Fenech was identified as the mastermind by the alleged middleman, taxi driver Melvin Theuma, who avoided prosecution for his role in the case in exchange for testifying. Theuma said he orchestrated the assassination with the DeGiorgio brothers on Fenech’s behalf. He testified that he never gave Fenech’s identity to DeGiorgio’s gang.

In an interview, DeGiorgio said he was willing to testify that a senior Maltese politician tried to stage an attack on Caruana Galizia in a separate plot two years earlier. DeGiorgio also said he would offer to testify about the involvement of two high-ranking former ministers in the armed robbery.

At this stage, Reuters is not releasing further details of these allegations or naming the individuals accused by DeGiorgio, all of whom deny any involvement in any crime.

The Maltese police and prosecutors handling the murder case did not respond to requests for official comment on DeGiorgio’s remarks.

In a further statement to Reuters, through their lawyer, George and Alfred DeGiorgio said they are seeking a post-confession sentencing “in line with that already handed down to Vincent Muscat. We are ready to reveal everything we know about other murders, bombings and crimes, provided we get a pardon. We stress that the families of the other victims must also be held accountable.”

Caruana Galizia was assassinated after she filed a string of corruption allegations against prominent people, including ministers in the island’s Labor Party government. Her murder raised suspicions that some of the people she was investigating may have been involved in a conspiracy with her death.

Fenech, who is accused of ordering the successful 2017 hit, was first identified in connection with Caruana Galizia in Reuters and Times of Malta articles in November 2018. The report cites him as the owner of a company known as 17 Black, which Caruana Galizia allegedly used without any evidence to bribe politicians. Fenech was also the leader of a controversial power plant project in Malta.

According to prosecution evidence presented in court at several preliminary hearings since 2018, George DeGiorgio and his gang hunted down the journalist throughout the summer of 2017. Prosecutors allege that in the early hours of October 16, 2017, the gang planted a bomb under a seat. in her car.

On that day, DeGiorgio was allegedly on a yacht in the island’s Grand Harbor when his brother Alfred, who was looking after the house, called and said that Caruana Galizia got into her car and drove away. DeGiorgio then sent a text message from the yacht to a mobile device that detonated the bomb, prosecutors told the court.

After the car exploded, Caruana Galizia’s son Matthew heard the explosion, ran out of the family home, and found his mother’s body. Since then, he has been fighting for justice for his mother. Asked about DeGiorgio’s comments, he told Reuters, “George DeGiorgio’s own words show he is a cold-blooded killer who deserves no reprieve.”

George DeGiorgio, accused of the car bomb that killed prominent Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017, leaves the Valletta court for the Corradino Correctional Facility in Malta, March 9, 2021.

Arrested two months after the murder, George DeGiorgio said nothing to the police, refusing to even give his name during interrogation. Before the interview with Reuters, he remained silent, and his lawyers denied his involvement in the murder for four years. He has also filed a number of lawsuits challenging the evidence against him.

But now he is seeking a deal with the prosecution before the court in exchange for admitting the charges and providing new information.

Alfred DeGiorgio, like his brother, pleaded not guilty to the murder charges but did not present his version. He also filed several motions to drop charges in exchange for testifying about what he knows.

George DeGiorgio said that before taking the job, he knew little about Caruana Galizia and her family, including that they were ordinary people and not criminals. – That’s it. Of course! I have never met her in my life,” he said.

Since March 2021, the DeGiorgio brothers have filed several applications for formal pardons for their crimes. The latest, filed on April 4 by their lawyer, William Cuscieri, states, without giving names or details, that DeGiorgios may testify to “crimes of attempted violent robbery and attempted murder, in which one of the authors was a minister and the other the author. who is the minister. According to an official statement, the request was denied by the Maltese government on April 24, citing national interests and the administration of justice.

Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela had previously denounced Degiorgios’ attempts to seek pardon, calling them “criminals” seeking to buy their freedom. Cuscieri, DeGiorgio’s lawyer, responded by stating that the prime minister was violating their right to a fair trial and, without elaborating, said the brothers had “direct information” about the minister’s involvement in the crime.