The Maltese man who was hired to monitor Panama Papers journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia before she was killed in October 2017, told a court that he and his killers argued over whether to ‘murder with a gun at close range – they ultimately decided was “too loud” – before settling on a bomb because it was “cleaner”.
Vincent Muscat “ il-Koħħu ”, who is serving a 15-year sentence after pleading guilty to his role in Galizia’s murder, apologized to his family ahead of his five-hour testimony on Thursday, according to Malta weather and other media reports. “I admitted all the charges against me and I was sentenced,” he told the court.
He then painted a picture of the plot to kill her with precision, including how he and his compatriot Alfred Degiorgio spent their time watching the journalist closely in cafes and through the windows of his Maltese home for help. of an automatic focusing telescope. “We would be sitting there on two bricks. It was uncomfortable and you would be in pain, ”he says. “Sometimes I would go to look for food. I bought three packs of Rothmans Red a day. We threw the cigarette ends into a bottle of water, so as not to leave any traces. We watched Daphne on her couch with a laptop until 2 a.m. “
Seven people have been charged with murder and aiding and abetting, including Maltese tycoon Yorgen Fenech, who Muscat says orchestrated the plot. Fenech, who was arrested while trying to travel to Italy, denies the charge.
Muscat described how he took the job to kill her. “Alfred Degiorgio came to see me and told me I had a good job,” he told the court. “The plan was to follow in his footsteps and shoot him when the time came.”
He then described how he and the others had received an advance of € 30,000, in € 50 bills. “We took € 10,000 each and started working. Alfred and I followed her to Bidnija, ”he said, referring to his native village. He then said the original plan was to kill her inside his house.
At one point, they planned to carry out his execution with a sniper rifle with a telescopic sight. Alfred Degiorgio was ready to pull the trigger but his brother George Degiorgio canceled the shot, telling the men it was “too loud” and that they would probably be caught. “A bomb will be easier to install, much cleaner,” they decided.
“The plan was to shoot Alfred under the tree,” he said, according to Maltese media. “I would take her away from the stage in a stolen car.” As soon as he fired, I had to open the door so that we could escape.
Muscat also named several people close to the inner circle of former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who he said ordered the coup, including former Maltese Economy Minister Chris Cardona and former chief of staff to Muscat, Keith Schembri. Muscat, the known killer, is unrelated to Muscat, the former prime minister.
During the testimony, Galizia’s sons tweeted some of the gruesome details live. “Alfred Degiorgio got a small bottle of water, filled it with gasoline and attached it to the bomb to make its impact even more devastating,” Matthew Caruana Galizia tweeted. “It was stainless steel, sophisticated, clearly made overseas … There was a slot for a SIM card.”
The two men had a cache of weapons in their car to escape. “We had guns in the car,” he said. “There was a 9mm automatic transmission that took a 16-shot magazine and an AK-47 in the car in case we ran into a roadblock.”
Then, as the reporter’s sons and husband listened, Muscat described the bomb that was so powerful it knocked his car off the road into a nearby field and literally blew his body into pieces. “Six inches thick, five inches wide and three inches long,” he said, using his hands to show the approximate size. “She was a beautiful bombshell, she had a stainless steel face.”
He went on to say that he had a slot for a SIM card to control the detonation with great precision. “The bomb came with a cell phone. There was a switch. You send a special message to the bomb’s SIM card, ”he said. “It contained around 500g of explosive.”
Then he added that it was so important for the people who hired them to make sure she didn’t survive, they beefed up the bomb. “We attached a gasoline bottle to it in case it wasn’t strong enough,” he said.
They also “got” a car identical to Galizia’s so they could practice opening the rear window and inserting the bomb under the driver’s seat. He also said that Alfred Degiorgio apparently had to deal with two groups at one point who both wanted to hire them to kill Galizia. “Alfred once told me that Cardona sent me a message,” he said, referring to the former Minister of the Economy. “He mentioned the € 150,000. He said there were two groups… they quoted the same price.
The night before his assassination, Muscat said he was summoned to pick up the bomb from a garage on the outskirts of Valletta. Galizia had left her car outside that night rather than inside the garage, giving them a perfect opportunity to plant the deadly explosive. They set up the bomb in the middle of the night, carrying her in a backpack to her car.
Then they met at 6 a.m. on the morning of the murder and waited hours for her to come out. “’Ċens, she’s going out,” Degiorgio told me… but she came back, ”Muscat said. “Shortly after she reappeared, it was as if she had forgotten something.
Then Galizia got in her car and got out of her driveway and took a winding road. They detonated the bomb just before the road plunged, Muscat said. “We were coming back to the car. We didn’t hear anything, ”Muscat told the court. “Alfred said, ‘I don’t think it blew up.’ I looked back and saw black smoke. I swear, Your Honor, we didn’t hear anything from that. We only heard a small sound.
Muscat then told the court he was shocked at the national and international attention the murder had attracted. He said he had no idea how important it was or the impact of what they had done.
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