A low battery alert on a mobile phone attached to a homemade bomb caused the device to malfunction, emitting a loud “pop” which foiled a car bomb attempt in Fgura last January.

The information was revealed in the compilation of evidence against Lorenzo Callus, known as 'Ħeswes', Paul Farrugia, known as 'Kwattru', and Jonathan Farrugia, known as 'Ġanni ta’ Nina' accused of the attempted murder of Mario Scicluna and his partner Elaine Galdes.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit heard prosecuting inspector Keith Arnaud explain how on January 4, Ms Galdes, whilst at home, had heard a loud “pop” which had caused her to look out of the window.

She saw smoke beneath the couple’s Mitsubishi Shogun and called the police.

The area was cordoned off while members from the Explosives Ordnance Disposal Unit were called in to remove the unexploded device and ensure that the area was completely safe, an operation which went on well into the night.

The explosive device was eventually taken away for forensic testing whereby it was found to contain an activation board attached to a Nokia phone in a sealed silicone bag linked to a detonator and suspected TNT.

A call to the mobile phone would trigger the sensor which would, in turn, set off the bomb. However, since the phone battery was almost dead, an alert signal had set off the detonator prematurely, thereby foiling the alleged bombers’ plan.

Investigations following the failed attempt had revealed how the phone’s SIM card had been purchased in Cospicua and had been activated last May. Cell tower data had linked the location of Mr Callus’s phone to locations of the bomb, including near the accused’s own home.

On January 4, phone intercepts had revealed an element of panic immediately following media reports about the failed bomb attack, with a call by one of the co-accused instructing the receiver to “throw the mobile over the bastions.”

Extensive footage retrieved from several areas of interest linked to the alleged crime, had apparently shown a pickup truck, similar to that belonging to one of the accused, the prosecution explained, although it was still too early to draw conclusions bearing in mind that there were some 72 hours of footage to sieve through.

The court heard further how Mr Callus's Volkswagen was traced to a Birzebbuga yard belonging to Peter Paul Cachia who was also arrested and later let out on bail.

Inside the vehicle, forensic experts found two Vodafone starter packs, another dual-SIM mobile phone with its IMEI scratched off and a top up voucher. Wires, batteries, black tape, silicone, remote controls and an electronic board- all linked to the bomb- were discovered in two containers at the yard.

A search at the home of Mr Callus revealed a smartphone corresponding to a SIM card which had moved with the SIM card used in the bomb, the court was told.

Paul Farrugia had allegedly approached the victim, Mario Scicluna, with an offer to sell him credit notes on building materials. Although the latter had handed over some €100,000 in November, the credit notes did not materialize.

It was only some two weeks after the failed January attempt that “il-Kwattru”, Paul Farrugia, had settled his debt with Mr Scicluna by handing over the promised credit notes.

The case continues.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Arthur Azzopardi are counsel to Jonathan Farrugia and Lorenzo Callus.Lawyer Roberto Montalto is counsel to Paul Farrugia.Lawyer Mario Mifsud appeared parte civile.

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