Updated to include the reaction of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family.
Vince Muscat, one of three accused of planting the bomb that killed journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on 16 October 2017, pled guilty to all charges in court today, an unexpected twist in the case.
Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, said he was guilty on all counts before Judge Edwina Grima. After the court gave him time to reconsider his decision, Muscat reiterated his plea. Asked whether he would like to hear the accusations, Muscat said that it was not necessary.
This means the case against the other two alleged hitmen – brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio – will now be separate from Muscat’s.
The three were charged in December 2017 with planting and detonating the bomb that killed the journalist.
Speculation was rife last week when Muscat withdrew his appeal on objections he had raised in court. Questions were raised on whether he had struck a new deal after his request for a presidential pardon was refused by Prime Minister Robert Abela last January – two years after his initial request.
Muscat, together with the other two alleged hitmen – brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio – had submitted some 118 objections to the court, which were turned down last October. The three then appealed. Then, last week, Muscat suddenly withdrew his appeal.
Muscat will serve a 15-year sentence and pay over €40,000 in court expenses after reaching a deal with prosecutors to provide information about the murder.
Shortly following Muscat’s plea, three men who are suspected of supplying the bomb used to assassinate Caruana Galizia, Tal-Maksar brothers Adrian and Robert Agius, and their associate Jamie Vella, were arrested in a police operation.
Daphne’s family reacts
In a statement delivered in court by the parte civile lawyer, the family expressed hope that this step will begin to lead to full justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The family reminded the court: “A person who has admitted his involvement in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia has denied her her right to life and has denied her her right to enjoy her family, including her grand children who were born after she was killed”.
“The macabre murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia was intentional and should have been prevented. The victim has paid with her life and her family is suffering the loss of their loved one.”