Two murders: ‘Same criminal organisation’

The testimonies of three police officers on Wednesday provided some insight into the lifestyle of Adrian Agius who, together with his brother Robert Agius (known as Tal-Maksar), have been charged with commissioning the 2015 murder of Carmel Chircop.

The compilation of evidence is against both Tal-Maksar brothers, as well as Jamie Vella and George Degiorgio (one of the suspect hitmen in the Daphne Caruana Galizia case).

The Attorney General’s office, part of the prosecution team, argued on Wednesday that despite the murders being two different ones, “it is the same criminal organisation”.

Robert Agius and Vella are charged with supplying the car bomb which killed Caruana Galizia. Vella and Degiorgio have been charged with executing Chircop’s murder.

The testimonies by the police officers, detailing the objects seized by the police, painted a picture of the group’s activities.

In just one car, belonging to Adrian Agius, police seized some €3,450 in cash, a laptop, bank cards, three mobile phones, a paper with initials and numbers indicating sums of money, a sim card, documents related to an Egyptian national, a Hugo Boss wallet, and a brown substance hidden in a compartment under the driver’s seat.

From his home, another two laptops, four Samsung mobile phones, five sim card starter packs, 350g of heroin, eight hard drives, and three top-up cards were seized.

In a press conference in February following the arrest of the accused, Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa had said that the police seized two vehicles, some €70,000 in cash, heroin, cocaine, some 25 mobile phones, and firearms, among other things from all the men.

Hush money

Backing up testimony by Police Inspector Keith Arnaud yesterday, an elderly man who has a familial connection with hitman Vince Muscat today told the court that a few months ago he had been approached by “a Jamie” at a Marsa bar who asked him to relay an offer to Muscat’s wife where he would be given €1,500 monthly not to mention Vella or Agius. Muscat’s wife had turned down the offer.

When the police had asked the witness to identify “Jamie” in a police identification parade, the witness said that he had not recognised him. He told the court that he had only seen “Jamie” once.

Questioned by Agius’ and Vella’s lawyer, Alfred Abela, the witness said the first conversation lasted five or 10 minutes. He added that he recognised “Jamie” when he returned to the bar the second time. The two went out to speak for about “three minutes” in which the witness said he acted like a “savage”. 

Garage owner testifies

John Bugeja, who allegedly leased a garage to Robert Agius – the garage in which Robert Agius trained the suspected hitmen how to unlock the car door and detonate the bomb – also testified on Wednesday.

Bugeja told the Court that he rents property from the Maksar brothers. In line with yesterday’s testimony by Arnaud, Bugeja said that he owes money to Robert Agius.

Shown pictures by the inspector, Bugeja identified the garage and confirmed that he had rented it for Agius from the daughter of “Giovann of Soap and Sponge” – he was killed by a bomb in 2016.

He said Agius told him that he needed a garage and asked him to register it under his (Bugeja’s) name. “I owed him, so I agreed to do it,” Bugeja told the court. Yet he then said Agius paid €700 annually for the garage.

The Maksar brothers, as well as Vella, were part of the group of individuals the police had originally arrested in connection with the murder in 2017, but they were quickly discharged.

                           
                               
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