William Cuschieri, the defence lawyer for Alfred and George Degiorgio who are accused of the brutal murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, has ended up in hot water over accusations of domestic violence against his estranged pregnant partner.
In a court decision last week, Justice Anna Felice turned down a request by Cuschieri to impose a travel ban on his partner, who is 15-weeks pregnant, after he claimed that she wanted to travel abroad to have an abortion.
Cuschieri’s name has so far not been made public in reports on the case.
In the decree, the Court underlined that abortion is illegal in Malta but ruled that it could not uphold the request to restrict the freedom of movement of the lawyer’s former partner as Cuschieri did not prove his claims.
At the same time, the Court said that in the context of the serious domestic violence claims made by the lawyer’s partner, there should be an investigation by the authorities.
According to the Women’s Rights Foundation, which assisted Cuschieri’s former partner in court, the lawyer had tried to use the judicial system to “continue controlling his former partner”.
Without mentioning Cuschieri by name, lawyer Lara Dimitrijevic said his former partner, who was 15-weeks pregnant, had no intention of undergoing an abortion.
She claimed that the woman, who has other children, left the relationship with Cuschieri due to domestic abuse. Dimitrijevic argued that through this legal action the woman was being further subjected to degrading treatment, as she had to turn in her passport to immigration officers until a final decision was handed down by the court.
Cuschieri, 38, hit the headlines last year when he began representing the Degiorgio brothers, accused of planting the bomb that killed journalist Caruana Galizia.
The lawyer has refused to declare how he was being paid by the Degiorgio brothers for his extensive defence, even though his clients had their assets frozen.
Middleman Melvin Theuma, who turned State witness, testified that he used to ask suspected mastermind Yorgen Fenech for money to finance the Degiorgios’ legal battle.
As well as representing his clients in the compilation of evidence, Cuschieri had opened 13 cases contesting various aspects of the investigation and judicial processes against the brothers, each incurring substantial legal costs.
Cuschieri also made the headlines in March 2017 when representing Silvio Debono of DB Group filing 19 separate libel cases against Caruana Galizia over allegations of corruption in the transfer of the former ITS site in St George’s Bay to be turned into a massive hotel and luxury apartments. The proposed project remains controversial to this day.
Debono is pursuing his libel suits against the journalist despite the fact that she was killed by a bomb planted inside her car in October 2017.