The Agius brothers, known as ‘Tal-Maksar’, named in court on Wednesday by the middleman in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia were among the 10 men arrested by police two months after her death, but were later released without charge.
The Tal-Maksar brothers, Adrian and Robert Agius from Zebbug, were mentioned by Melvin Theuma in the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech. Theuma told Magistrate Rachel Montebello that Fenech had often told him that the bomb was manufactured by Tal-Maksar.
The Agius brothers were among the 10 men arrested in a clampdown by police that led to George Degiorgio, Alfred Degiorgio and Vincent Muscat, charged with planting the bomb. Apart from the three charged, the rest were released within 48 hours.
The Agius brothers were not called in again, despite reports of their involvement in supplying parts of the bomb used in the journalist’s brutal murder.
Theuma told the court how on one morning in 2018, after a night of drinking, he had woken up to find a message from murder suspect Fenech instructing him to find and put pressure on Tal-Maksar, who allegedly played a part in manufacturing the bomb used to kill Caruana Galizia.
The magistrate deemed it noteworthy that, despite Theuma being the middleman and the individual in contact with the suspected contract killers, he was unaware as to who Tal-Maksar were while Fenech, who has so far seemed to have had no communication with the suspected contract killers, allegedly knew who had manufactured the bomb.
Last November, Matthew Caruana Galizia, the son of the slain journalist, named the Agius brothers as the potential suspects to have supplied parts of bomb used to kill his mother.
“Malta’s miserable criminal justice system failed to prosecute and convict these suspected middlemen for countless drug trafficking and money laundering offences every time the opportunity arose,” Caruana Galizia had written on Facebook.
“If it’s true that Adrian and Robert Agius supplied the bomb or parts of the bomb, then the implication is that these two criminals were left free, due to the wilful negligence of authorities, to supply the bomb,” Caruana Galizia added.
Caruana Galizia divulged the names of the two brothers following a report by The Times of Malta which said that the device used to kill the journalist was believed to have been procured by two brothers who are known in the criminal underworld who have contacts in the Albanian underworld.
The report also said that the parts were almost identical to those used in the bomb explosion of Romeo Bone in February of 2017, who survived the explosion but lost both his legs.
Caruana Galizia also shared a report on a court case involving Robert Agius, to back up his argument about the flaws in Malta’s criminal justice system. In the report, a Court had ruled that Agius’ rights had been breached because a case against him for alleged involvement in a heroin-trafficking conspiracy which he was charged with in 2012, had taken too long to conclude.
During his testimony to the public inquiry board tasked with finding out whether Caruana Galizia’s murder could have been prevented, her son also highlighted the fact that the Tal-Maksar brothers were never charged by the police.
He had blamed the failure in Malta’s criminal justice system for being “unable” to charge and convict the Agius brothers, allowing them the freedom to supply the bomb, he told the public inquiry.
The late journalist had written about Adrian Agius in October of 2014. She had reported that Agius was not missing but on vacation at a time when media reports focused on him as a “member of the crime gang whose shipments of meat from Brazil were financed by loans of cash at between 20% to 40% interest from businessmen seeking to evade tax”.
She had said that his father, Raymond Agius, was a smuggler who was shot in the head at Butterfly Bar in Birkirkara at the age of 49. No one has been charged with the murder.
She had also written about Adrian Agius’ associate Terence Gialanze who had “vanished after telling his family that he was going fishing… and is presumed dead”.