Malta Independent

Bail, electronic tagging of Caruana Galizia’s accused killers a non-starter


The prospects of the two men accused of the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia being released on bail with electronic tags appeared slim yesterday afternoon, after a judge hearing a constituti­onal case was told that only sentenced inmates won parole were eligible for electronic tagging.

Lawyer William Cuschieri, appearing for the brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio in constituti­onal proceeding­s demanding their release from custody, argued that he had made identical requests for bail several times and that these were being heard by a limited number of judges, who had more than once already expressed their intention to deny bail.

Madam Justice Lorraine Schembri Orland, however, said she did not feel that the evidence showed that there “is some imputation of prejudice on the part of the judges who heard the preceding requests.”

In yesterday’s sitting, it emerged that while the electronic tagging of convicts on parole was allowed, the same did not apply to suspects in preventive custody.

Director of Prisons Alex Dalli took the stand, confirming that the Degiorgio brothers had been held at the Corradino Corrective Facility since December 2017. Asked about the electronic tagging procedure, he said that the behaviour and rehabilita­tion of prisoners who are sentenced and not under preventive arrest or on bail were examined by an advisory board towards the end of their sentence. There were schemes for pre-release candidates involving community work, he said. “At the moment, the prison authoritie­s are carrying out a pilot project involving inmates approved by the prison leave advisory board, in which they are fitted with electronic tags in ankle bracelets and monitored by officials from CCF. The system doesn’t exist for people on bail,” he said, however.

Lawyer Victoria Buttigieg, from the Office of the Attorney General, asked the witness to state whether the accused were still under arrest or sentenced. They were under arrest, the witness said.

“Therefore this method [electronic tagging] doesn’t exist for those under preventive arrest?” Buttigieg asked. He replied in the affirmativ­e.

The Times of Malta’s Matthew Xuereb was summoned to testify but did not appear when called. The court instructed the police to ensure that he testified in the next sitting on 23 May.

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