Degiorgio brothers sentenced to 40 years imprisonment after stunning court with turnaround guilty plea

Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio have each been sentenced to 40 years imprisonment for their roles in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. They have also been ordered to pay €42,930 each in legal costs and another €50,000 in criminal proceeds to be confiscated.

The brothers shocked the court on Friday with a complete turnaround of their pleas in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia – from not guilty to guilty.

About halfway into an all-day sitting on Friday, the Degiorgios reversed the not-guilty plea they had filed in court the same morning in exchange for a lighter sentence.

The almost five-year case has now drawn to a close just two days before the fifth anniversary of the journalist’s murder, which will be commemorated on Sunday.

With Friday’s change of plea, four people have now admitted their involvement in the journalist’s assassination by a car bomb on 16 October 2017. Middleman Melvin Theuma and spotter Vince Muscat had already confessed.

Robert Agius, aka Ta’ Maksar, and Jamie Vella also stand accused, in other proceedings, of having provided the bomb that took Caruana Galizia’s life. They are both claiming their innocence.

The surprise about-face to a guilty plea appeared to have been taken after the nine jurors, and five substitutes were selected and sworn in. The brothers heard jurors being told of the strength of the prosecution’s case by Assistant Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia, including how they had traced burner phones that had been used in the murder to phones belonging to the Degiorgio brothers.

Eyebrows in the courtroom were raised when the case was not reconvened after the lunch break. When legal aid lawyer Simon Micallef Stafrace emerged some three hours later, he informed the court that the accused would instead be changing their pleas to guilty.

Madam Justice Edwina Grima explained that the consequences of their change of plea could be life imprisonment. After she gave the brothers a chance to reconsider, they reconfirmed their guilty plea. She then dismissed the jurors and retired to chambers to consider the sentences.

Psychiatrist Beppe Micallef Trigona was appointed to assess the brothers’ state of mental health, and he informed the court that it could proceed after he examined them both.

Both the defence and prosecution had reached a sentencing agreement, which the court was only bound to take into consideration.

It was a sudden and somewhat unprecedented move just two days before the anniversary of Caruana Galizia’s murder that the accused changed their pleas after the Attorney General’s submissions.

The Degiorgio brothers were among 10 people arrested in a high-profile raid on their Marsa lair, the ‘potato shack’, just two months after the murder, in December 2017.

Vincent Muscat, the third hitman in the murder, was given a reduced 15-year sentence in a plea bargain deal that saw him turn State’s witness.

Robert Agius and Jamie Vella, accused of providing the bomb that killed Caruana Galizia, remain in pre-trial custody as well.

In November 2019, Yorgen Fenech, a Maltese hotel and casino boss with close ties to senior government officials, was arrested while trying to escape Malta on his yacht. On 18 August, Fenech was then indicted on charges of complicity to commit murder. The indictment claims that Fenech ordered and paid for the killing. He, too, remains in pre-trial detention.

The confessed “middleman”—  who passed messages between the alleged hitmen and Fenech — is now State witness and was granted a presidential pardon.

Much of the delay in court proceedings was caused by the Degiorgio brothers filing over 100 pre-trial pleas since the compilation of evidence against them began including several bids since March 2021 for an official pardon for their crimes in exchange for information.

In September, the brothers lost their long-standing lawyer William Cuschieri and failed to secure a new lawyer to defend them since Alfred Degiorgio sensationally admitted to carrying out the hit during an interview with Reuters journalist Stephen Grey.

Although they have been granted access to a legal aid lawyer, Alfred Degiorgio went on a hunger strike in what was widely perceived as yet another attempt to delay proceedings. He was brought into court on the judge’s orders – in a wheelchair and covered in a blanket. Yet he seemed to be walking fine by the time the brothers decided to change their plea.

After the sentencing, Alfred Degiorgio was heard telling a prison guard that he wanted to approach Caruana Galizia’s family, saying, “I want to give them the full truth from beginning to end if you want to know it.”

As the brothers approached members of Caruana Galizia’s family, saying they wanted to have a word with them,  the answer was a firm “No!” from the family.

                           
                           
                               
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makjavel
makjavel
1 month ago

After the sentencing, Alfred Degiorgio was heard telling a prison guard that he wanted to approach Caruana Galizia’s family, saying, “I want to give them the full truth from beginning to end if you want to know it.”
Will they be called in the remaining cases?

Stott Chris
Stott Chris
1 month ago
Reply to  makjavel

Haha 10/1 says he has an accident in prison before he gets the chance.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
1 month ago

There was an organized group of people involved in the assassination of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Each one of them had a task to do. The three persons convicted are only those who planted and denoted the bomb. There is still a part of the group with blood in their hands.

makjavel
makjavel
1 month ago

The eternal question will always be : What was found out or information given to Muscat’s cabinet to force them to kick him out of his office? This never happened in Malta’s history. They all know, they have been forced into a NON DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT by the party before being allowed anywhere near their headquarters. Is it a MAFIA system , with omerta and contract killings and frame ups ? Marmara bite the bullet this morning and exposed the Labour Party as it has become.

Mick
Mick
1 month ago

These two killers have just a small window of opportunity to expose what they know about the government involvement in Daphne’s assassination, before they are marked for execution by those that know.

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