A magistrate decided on Thursday that three men charged with murdering journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia will stand trial.

Vince Muscat, George Degiorgio and his brother Alfred Degiorgio are charged with killing the journalist through a car bomb on October 16. The three have pleaded not guilty.

Different police officers testified on Thursday to corroborate the evidence presented by investigators since Tuesday.

Among other details, Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit heard how one of the men suspected of having triggered the car bomb listened to the explosion over his brother's phone. She also heard how a suspicious device was switched on close to Ms Caruana Galizia's house 13 hours before the bomb blast.

Here is a rundown of Thursday's proceedings in court:

11.03am: The accused have been escorted out of court. Compilation of evidence has been adjourned until February 1.

The ball is in the AG's court to decide whether to go to trial now, or if they continue presenting evidence to the magistrate. 

11am: A source says the prosecution still has a lot of evidence to present.

10.56am: Court says there is enough evidence for the accused to stand trial.

10.54am: Inspector Keith Arnaud presents CDs containing call logs for the individual mobile phones of the three accused. He is also presenting various pictures which had been shown to the suspects during the interrogation.

10.50am: Defence lawyer Martin Fenech steps into the arena and asks police officer Scerri for his location when he shot the film. "How far was he from you when you say you recognised him? Some 50 or 70 metres and you recognised him?"

"Yes," Scerri replies. Police says he has a zoom lens to shoot the footage, and he could also recognise him clearly.

The three suspects.The three suspects.

10.43am: During the search of a car belonging to Alfred Degiorgio, police say they found a GPS, a wi-fi key and some documents. Later that day the police also searched the Audi A4, belonging to George Degiorgio, where they found four USB sticks as well as a wi-fi router. Vincent Muscat's more humble Toyota Passo was searched, but nothing was found.

10.40am: The police say they were particularly interested in a boat called Maya, captained by suspect George Degiorgio. Footage of the boat shot on November 23 is being exhibited in the court room.

Just to recap the court proceedings this morning, all the police officers being brought in on Thursday are corroborating the testimony given by the inspecting officers on Wednesday.

READ: Caruana Galizia trigger man heard killer explosion over phone, court told

10.35am: Police officer Saviour Scerri is detailing the collection of CCTV footage from the Bidnija area. He was stationed with the FBI officers, and accompanied them to the cell towers and other places of interest. He tells the court he was involved in the investigation into the suspicious car seen at the Bidnija vantage point. The car was spotted with a suspicious-looking person inside it on several days leading up to the murder, as well as on the day of the murder. After the blast, it was never seen at the vantage point again.

The car was spotted with a suspicious-looking person inside it on several days leading up to the murder

10.30am: Police officer Josef Gerada tells court he was among the first officers to raid the potato shed in Marsa, which yielded the suspects. Together with the Armed Forces of Malta, they approached the scene on a boat. With the assistance of a number of other officers they managed to open the garage door and arrested the person inside. 

10.26am: The police spoke to the victim's son, Matthew, who traced back the last hours before his mother was killed in a car bomb close to their home.

10.23am: The sergeant spoke to a number of hunters and farmers in the Bidnija area to ascertain if anyone had seen anything suspicious. Unfortunately he came up with no leads. 

10.17am: First to testify is police sergeant Brady Zammit who says he accompanied inspector Kurt Zahra to the crime scene on October 16. 

10.14am: The accused Alfred Degiorgio, George Degiorgio and Vincent Muscat have just been brought into court. The victim's husband, Peter Caruana Galizia is also in the room. 

Sketch of the three accused men in court. Sketch: David Johansson.Sketch of the three accused men in court. Sketch: David Johansson.


Over the past two days, various pieces of police evidence have linked the October 16 murder to Degiorgio brothers Alfred and George and Vincent Muscat.

During this pre-trial stage, the magistrate must decide whether there is sufficient evidence for the people accused of murdering her to stand trial for the crime.

The prosecution is expected to present witnesses and experts to corroborate the evidence already presented by the two prosecuting officers Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra.

The defence has so far reserved the right to cross examine the two inspectors, as well as Ms Caruana Galizia's widower Peter.

Today's pre-trial sitting is scheduled to last till around 4pm with a short recess  around lunch-time.

READ: old Nokias, DNA samples and SIM card data cited in court

Among other leads, so far magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit heard how police: 

• Used the FBI's help to home in on suspicious phone numbers, once which was linked to a remotely controlled device and which went active at 2am in Bidnija on the day of Ms Caruana Galzia's murder. It received an SMS at the time the bomb went off and immediately went off-radar. 

• Believe that the phone which sent the bomb detonation SMS was an old Nokia 105 and that the trigger SMS was sent from out at sea. Thirteen hours before Ms Caruana Galizia was killed, a suspicious device was switched on in Bidnija and remained active until it received a text message at the time of her death.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb on October 16. Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaDaphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb on October 16. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

• Cell tower data shows all three suspects at the scene of the crime in the days leading up to the murder.

• Spotted one of the Degiorgio brothers' boats leaving the Grand Harbour at 8am on the day of the murder, and again just off Valletta minutes before the bomb went off. The timings coincide with call and text logs which the police went through.

• Found pieces of plastic debris at the scene of the explosion, including one with the word "card" printed on it, which did not belong to the Peugeot Ms Caruana Galizia was driving.

• Were already tapping George Degiorgio's phone at the time of the murder, and heard Mr Degiorgio call two separate people on the day of the murder to top up a separate number with €5 in credit.
• Received reports of a suspicious car regularly parked by tat-Tarġa Battery - an ideal vantage point for the killers - in the days leading to the murder. The car was subsequently never seen there again. 

• Found a "fresh-looking" cigarette butt under a tree at the tat-Tarġa vantage point which was sent for forensic analysis. After the initial arraignment DNA tests confirmed that the butt had been smoked by Alfred Degiorgio.

Let's revisit the key players.

For the defence:

Martin Fenech is appearing for Vince Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, 55 and from Msida.
William Cuschieri and Martha Muscat are appearing for Alfred Degiorgio, known as il-Fulu, 53, and from St Paul's Bay.
Josette Sultana is appearing for Alfred's brother George Degiorgio, known as iċ-Ċiniz 55, and also from St Paul's Bay.

For the prosecution:

Philip Galea Farrugia from the attorney general's office.
Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra are prosecuting officers.

Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing parte civile.

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