In October 2016 – the time when The Daphne Project reports that a call was made to Economy Minister Chris Cardona and Alfred Degiorgio after a conversation with Daphne Caruana Galizia – the journalist had named her caller.
The Daphne Project did not reveal the man’s identity in the story published on Monday evening, where Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported that phone records showed that an individual who spoke with Caruana Galizia after she reported on fuel smuggling in October 2016, then called Cardona and Degiorgio who is one of the three accused of her murder.
Yet Caruana Galizia had made his name public, saying on 31 October 2016 that Pierre Darmanin had called her following a story she wrote on diesel smuggling and drug trafficking. Darmanin was named in a police/customs investigation into a fuel-smuggling ring in 2013.
In a blog post entitled ‘Diesel smuggling, drug trafficking, car bombs and shootings,’ Caruana Galizia had said she received a call in connection with the story she had published earlier in which she wrote about “an emerging pattern in which diesel-smugglers are blown up by bombs in their car while drug-traffickers are shot by hit-men”.
In her story, Caruana Galizia had referred to the MV Silverking which was impounded by Customs in 2013 after it was found to be carrying fuel from Misrata, Libya. Darmanin had insisted in court that the fuel had been purchased legally.
After the publication of her story, Caruana Galizia had written an update in which she said that Darmanin had called her to say he had since sold the vessel. He also told her that he had not been charged with diesel-smuggling but investigated, according to her post.
In a statement on Monday, Cardona denied the reports, saying “a number of media outlets have published allegations about me which are speculative, and distort the facts, in order to suit a particular narrative they are persistently trying to push”.
The Times of Malta quoted “a source briefed on the magisterial inquiry” saying there was no evidence linking Cardona to the murder.
La Repubblica reports that these phone logs were withheld from Magistrate Anthony Vella despite his written requests for them. They are now in the hands of Magistrate Neville Camilleri who took over the inquiry after Vella was promoted to judge. This led La Repubblica to point out the government’s manipulation of information related to the investigation.
The consortium also revealed that two witnesses told Magistrate Camilleri that on 29 June 2017, four months before the journalist was assassinated, Cardona and Degiorgio met at a bachelor’s party in a villa in Fawwara.
When a witness had said in April that Cardona met Degiorgio at a bar in Siggiewi, Cardona had said he did not recall having any discussions with any of the three individuals accused of carrying out the car bombing.
“I do not recall having any discussions with any of these individuals, and have definitely never had any meetings with them. Anything else is baseless rumour and speculation,” Cardona had said.