Daphne murder: experts say footage confirms boat belongs to murder suspect

Daphne murder: experts say footage confirms boat belongs to murder suspect

Several officers testify in compilation of evidence

The hearing is taking place amid tight security. Photo: Reuters

The hearing is taking place amid tight security. Photo: Reuters

Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder suspects were back in court on Friday as the compilation of evidence against them resumed.

1.30pm: The case has been adjourned until February 15.

1pm: Officers are now testifying on the evidence they collected on site.

11.30am: The sitting has been adjourned for a while. 

11.20am: Three experts from the police forensics team take the stand together saying they had checked firearms and ammunition elevated from Żebbuġ.

11.15am: Other items were elevated from a Mosta farmhouse, close to the scene of the crime. These included packaging tape, binoculars and a monoscope also found in Ford Transit. Mr Hughes says items must first be photographed, examined visually and then tested for fingerprints.

11.08am: Items, including car plastic parts bearing fingerprints, are handed over to the court.

10.57am: Former police sergeant Jeffrey Hughes who was appointed court expert into the murder, takes to the stand. He says he examined plastic parts from the scene of the crime in Bidnija as well as around 11 CDs of material.

10.53am: Two police fingerprint and photo experts present a report, CDs and four volumes of photos to the court.

The scene of the crime just minutes after the blast. Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaThe scene of the crime just minutes after the blast. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

10.50am: Expert is going through dossier of photos of the vessel. Defence lawyer keeps insisting that he cannot see the name 'Wellcraft' even on the enlarged photo. Expert says it was clearly visible in the footage studied.

10.40am: For more than an hour experts have been testifying about the identity of a boat which was spotted going in and out of the Grand Harbour on the day of the murder. Investigators believe a text was sent from the Maya, which allegedly detonated a bomb placed under the driver’s seat of Caruana Galizia's car.

10.30am: The defence keeps trying to shed doubt on whether the boat in the footage was actually the Maya

10.10am: Another expert testifies and says the boat is currently kept in a hangar under police custody. He says that besides basic model, the vessel had other distinctive features on the exterior. Besides, the Martinique 2800 is the only model in Malta.

The Maya, from which the bomb is believed to have been detonated.The Maya, from which the bomb is believed to have been detonated.

He confirms that the boat in the footage was the same held by the police.

10am: Asked if he could spot any individuals on board, the IT expert again replies in the affirmative. "In stills the person’s face was visible. There were others with him," he replies.

9.55am: Defence lawyer asks whether the boat could be identified by its name. The IT expert says the name was on the front of the boat and zooming into the images made it clear.

9.50am: First witness is IT expert Keith Cutajar who was to determine time when the Maya vessel entered Grand Harbour. He says the boat’s name was clearly visible in the footage he inspected, and recordings showed its movements in and out of the harbour.

What we know so far:

  • Ms Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bomb blast in October 2017, close to her home in Bidnija.
  • Two months later, police arrested 10 men in connection with her murder. Three of those - Degiorgio brother Alfred and George, and Vincent Muscat - were charged with her murder. The others were released on police bail without charge.
  • The bomb - between 300gr and 400gr of TNT - was an improvised explosive device clearly intended to kill the journalist.
  • National security information system unit officer explained how information was collated from the various calls, determining the time and location they were made.
  • The FBI helped to home in on suspicious phone numbers. One was linked to a remote-controlled device and 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.
  • Triangulated cell tower data to work out that the killer SMS was sent from out at sea. George Degiorgio was seen going fishing on that day, and shortly after the bomb went off texted his partner "buy me wine, my love."
  • Experts 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. Police found a "fresh-looking" cigarette butt with Alfred Degiorgio's DNA on it under a tree at the tat-Tarġa vantage point.

Read: How phone data helped police home in on suspects

The key courtroom players:

Martin Fenech is appearing for Vince Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, 55.

William Cuschieri and Martha Muscat are appearing for Alfred Degiorgio, known as il-Fulu, 53.

Josette Sultana is appearing for Alfred's brother George Degiorgio, known as iċ-Ċiniz, 55.

Philip Galea Farrugia from the attorney general's office and inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra are appearing for the prosecution.

Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing parte civile.

Read: Who was Daphne Caruana Galizia?