Drama in court after Caruana Galizia murder suspect makes 'threatening' remark

Drama in court after Caruana Galizia murder suspect makes 'threatening' remark

Il-Fulu ordered not to look in direction of family's lawyers

Il-Fulu, left, together with the other accused - Vince Muscat and George Degiorgio.

Il-Fulu, left, together with the other accused - Vince Muscat and George Degiorgio.

Threatening comments allegedly uttered by one of three men charged with the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia in the corridors of the law courts on Thursday sparked off an incident which resulted in a strong warning.

Alfred Degiorgio, known as il-Fulu, was in the upper corridors of the law courts at around 4pm when he was heard saying inneħħuha ’l din, inneħħuha ’l din (we'll get her out of the way), his handcuffed hands gesturing towards Therese Comodini Cachia, one of the lawyers assisting the Caruana Galizia family.

Mr Degiorgio was being led towards the elevator by three armed security guards when the incident happened. Dr Comodini Cachia was at the time with Peter Caruana Galizia, the late Mrs Caruana Galizia's husband.

The whole episode was overheard and observed by the two other Caruana Galizia family lawyers, namely Jason Azzopardi and Eve Borg Costanzi, who were following a few metres behind.

Alerting their colleague, Dr Comodini Cachia, about the remark allegedly passed in her direction, the lawyers returned to the courtroom where they informed Madam Justice Lorraine Schembri Orland about the incident.

The judge immediately ordered all parties back to the courtroom.

Dr Azzopardi and Dr Borg Costanzi, as eyewitnesses, were each asked to confirm their version of the incident under oath.

Mr Degiorgio's lawyer, William Cuschieri, explained that, although he had not personally witnessed the incident since he had rushed to take the elevator, he had caught sight of the guards apparently trying to calm down Mr Degiorgio who appeared to be rather agitated.

Speaking to his lawyer shortly after, Mr Degiorgio said Dr Caruana Galizia had passed an unpleasant remark in his direction and he had reacted verbally to this.

Determined to get the whole story, Madam Justice Schembri Orland asked the three guards to also take the witness stand, and each declared under oath that they had not heard any such remarks from Mr Degiorgio. They also denied that the man had been angry or agitated.

Dr Comodini Cachia declared under oath that while walking to the lawyers' chamber she had noticed Dr Caruana Galizia's expression when looking in Mr Degiorgio's direction. As the two had walked on, she had noted that Mr Degiorgio appeared to be "unusually agitated".

Madam Justice Schembri Orland declared that she gave more weight to the “word of a lawyer” as a court official. Moreover, she observed a conflict between the version supplied by Dr Comodini Cachia and that given by the three guards.

“I'm not going to water this down with a reciprocal order,” declared the judge, observing that given the particular circumstances of the case, nor would a mere warning to Mr Degiorgio be sufficient.

Mr Degiorgio, standing beside his lawyer, denied he had said the words attributed to him.

Dr Comodini Cachia, while not insisting upon punitive measures in respect of Mr Degiorgio, requested protection as a court official.

In light of the gravity of the case, the court issued a formal order prohibiting Mr Degiorgio from looking in the direction of the Caruana Galizia lawyers or uttering any words understood as threats in their regards.

“Should it reach the attention of the court that this order has been breached, the court will take immediate steps accordingly,” was her final word of warning.

The incident happened after a three-hour long hearing during which Mr Degiorgio’s lawyer was seeking to obtain an interim ruling to stop FBI agents from testifying in the next sitting of the compilation of evidence against him, his brother George and Vincent Muscat - the three men accused with the murder.

After all arguments had been made before the First Hall, Civil Court in its constitutional jurisdiction the case was adjourned to Friday morning.