Murder suspect in Caruana Galizia’s murder denied bail

FILE PHOTO: Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech, who was arrested in connection with an investigation into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, leaves the Courts of Justice in Valletta, Malta, November 28, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The Court of Magistrates is expected to decided on a fresh request for bail submitted on behalf of murder suspect Yorgen Fenech.

During Monday’s sitting Fenech and his legal team made a fresh request for bail, with the lawyers arguing that Fenech’s fundamental rights were being breached.

Magistrate Rachel Montebello is presiding over the case.

Police Inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra are prosecuting.

Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are appearing for the family.

Lawyers Marion Camilleri, Gianluca Caruana Curran and Charles Mercieca are appearing for Yorgen Fenech.

14:41 Thank you for following!
Monique Agius
14:40 The next hearing will be on 6 October at 10am.
Monique Agius
14:36 The defence asks for the accused to be present.

Magistrate Montebello says that ideally he is present.

Dr Mercieca says that a similar method should be adopted when analyzing Fenech's devices.

Arnaud clarifies that the request was only for devices seized from third-parties in relation to the case.
Monique Agius
14:36 The parties will then have to agree on which content should be brought as evidence in these proceedings.
Monique Agius
14:34 After the data is copied, the information is analysed by the prosecution and the defence, in the presence of the court expert.
Monique Agius
14:33 They will view the data in a specific room and choose from there.
Monique Agius
14:32 The court says that it could appoint a court expert to make a detailed inventory.
Monique Agius
14:31 Dr Galea-Farrugia says that he is aware that among the devices seized which belongs to Theuma's partner's daughter.
Monique Agius
14:29 Dr Mercieca says that the defence is insisting to have access to the full device.
Monique Agius
14:26 Dr Camilleri says that first they need to have access.

Dr Mercieca notes that when the Europol presented evidence related to Melvin Theuma's phone, Europol gave parties access to Theuma's phone without any filtering. He says that the defence then acted professionally by not bringing any evidence which is not related to the case.
Monique Agius
14:26 Arnaud explains his idea in detail. While the defence team are already standing up, waiting for their turn to speak.
Monique Agius
14:24 He maintains that through such an exercise, one could safeguard the privacy of third parties who are in no way linked to the case.
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14:21 Arnaud says that Fenech's phone contains a lot of data including data concerning his children and family. He suggests the appointment of an expert to filter the data. He refers to case law from the European Court of Human Rights. He cites SIGRÍÐUR ELÍN SIGFÚSDÓTTIR v. ICELAND saying that it was similar to this case.

He says that keywords could be suggested and the data could be sifted.

Alternatively the court expert could prepare a report.
Monique Agius
14:18 The court has turned down the defence request's for a reference to the constitutional court.
Monique Agius
14:17 The experts who extracted the data are set to testify in the proceedings.
Monique Agius
14:15 The court says that the defence did not clarify which evidence it was referring to when complaining that it lacked access to evidence.
Monique Agius
14:11 The magistrate says that the data cannot be handed over because it still subject to investigation, also noting it is also set to be exhibited in the court.
Monique Agius
14:07 The court was asked to request a reference to the constitutional court to determine whether Fenech's fundamental rights were breached.
Monique Agius
14:06 We're back in session.
Monique Agius
13:55 The court will now decide on the request for a constitutional reference made by defence. The court is suspended briefly.
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13:52 She says that denying bail at this stage, does not mean that the prosecution has any right to stall the investigation.

Magistrate Montebello says that the prosecution should carry out its investigations diligently and efficiently.
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13:51 The court says that there is a real risk to the tampering of evidence.
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13:49 The court gives a variety of reasons why Fenech should not be granted bail including:
that it seems that the accused did not act alone,
the investigation is still active,
other people considered to be person of interest to the police,
among other reasons.
Monique Agius
13:46 Magistrate Montebello notes that the investigation is still active.

She notes that there have been attempts of collusion with third-parties to destroy evidence.
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13:45 She points out previous escape plots and the fact that Fenech was arrested attempting to abscond on his pleasure boat.
Monique Agius
13:42 Magistrate Montebello is rushing through the decree.

The Magistrate said while it is true that his family and business ties are in Malta, the fear of him absconding is not so 'remote'.
Monique Agius
13:40 The Magistrate says that she does not agree with defence's assertion that Fenech's right to freedom is being breached.
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13:39 The court refers to EU case law in its decree.
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13:36 The court deems the AG's reply as inadmissible because it was submitted late.
Monique Agius
13:36 The magistrate will now read the decree.
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13:35 Dr Galea Farrugia says that in his reply he gave an exhaustive list on why the murder suspect should not be granted bail.
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13:35 Magistrate Montebello asks whether the prosecution has any submissions to make on the bail request.
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13:32 Dr Mercieca says that the police had Fenech's mobile from day 1 from the investigations.

The prosecution is aware that they have to bring evidence which is both in favour and against the accused, Mercieca says.

'Fenech is asking for something which he owns, and the prosecution turns down his request,' he concludes.
Monique Agius
13:31 The lawyer says that it might be too late when the defence team gets a copy of the data.

Dr Mercieca says that from the questions asked and from what appeared in local media shows that the prosecution and the parte civile have access to the data.
Monique Agius
13:29 Dr Mercieca says he will explain why they asked for a reference.

The lawyer says that there is not an equality of arms. He says that Fenech has been asking for his mobile for months.
Monique Agius
13:28 Magistrate Montebello refers to the reference made to the constitutional court. She asks whether the parties would like to make any submissions.
Monique Agius
13:27 The court asks about Police Inspector about the data that was extracted from Theuma's devices.

Arnaud says that the police had exhibited all the files extracted by Europol, including the corrupted files.
Monique Agius
13:26 Magistrate Montebello apologizes for the delay, she says that yesterday's sitting meant a lot of work.
Monique Agius
13:25 After almost an hour behind schedule, Magistrate Rachel Montebello walks in. We're in session.
Monique Agius
12:49 The courtroom is packed with some unfamiliar faces. We're waiting for today's hearing to begin.

In the meantime here is a recap from yesterday:
– Yorgen Fenech, Joseph Muscat and Keith Schembri had a WhatsApp group between them
– Fenech had described his relationship with Muscat and Schembri as though they were like brothers
– Muscat was questioned 'under caution' at the police headquarters last week over claims made by Fenech
– the police are investigating Fenech's attempt to procure cyanide
– Fenech showed 'no remorse' during the interrogation
Monique Agius
12:46 Murder suspect Yorgen Fenech is escorted into the courtroom, his mother waves at him.
Monique Agius
12:46 Police Inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra have entered the courtroom, as well as Dr Jason Azzopardi.
Monique Agius
12:29 A court official just informed those present that the hearing will be delayed by 20 minutes.
Monique Agius
12:28 Dr Philip Galea Farrugia and Nadia Attard from the Attorney General's Office walk into the courtroom.
Monique Agius
12:25 Already present in the courtroom is the family of the murder suspect Yorgen Fenech.
Monique Agius
12:23 Good afternoon and welcome to this live blog. We're live from Hall 20.
Monique Agius