Degiorgio brothers request bail; ask to be electronically tagged

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

George and Alfred Degiorgio, the two brothers being accused with Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, wish to be granted bail. Monitoring would then occur via electronic tags. Vince Muscat is also being accused of the murder.

In Court, the Degiorgio brothers’ lawyer listed a number of reasons as to why bail ought to be granted. They have spent more than two years being held under arrest at Corradino Prison. The lawyer representing the Office of the Attorney General said that investigations are still ongoing, and that they should be held under preventative arrest.

Judge Edwina Grima said that she will deliver her decree later on.

Electronic tagging

Alexander Dalli, the Prison’s Director, said that electronic tagging is still in the stage of experimentation, and that there is yet no law regulating its use. He explained that electronic tags are worn around the ankles, and monitor the prisoner’s location as well as speed of movement. The system has been in use for around a year.

Electronic tagging would permit geofencing. This means that authorities can program the tag to send an alert should a prisoner walk towards or out of a predefined restricted zone.

According to Dalli, the electronic tag can also issue alerts should someone attempt to modify it in some way, and whenever the battery level is low. He explained that currently, surveillance via electronic tagging does not occur in the evening, since prisoners who wear this monitor would still sleep inside the prison. According to Dalli, it is a good system, but like all other systems, imperfect.

The arguments brought forward

Judge Grima said that the Prison’s Director does not have any authority over those being held under preventative arrest. In this case, it is the Police and the Court that hold the authority. She added that there is no legislation which regulates electronic tagging.

The Degiorgio brothers’ lawyer, William Cuschieri, said that his clients are ready to sleep inside the prison at night. He believes that there is no reason to fear tampering with evidence. He added that although the accusations are serious, it doesn’t mean that bail should not be granted. He said that the procedures are at an advanced stage, and that his clients have been arrested for more than two years.

Dr Cuschieri said that the prosecution is to bring forward what it described as a “new” witness, along with several recordings. This is in relation to Melvin Theuma, who acted as a middleman, and the recordings of discussions held with Yorgen Fenech.

However, Cuschieri insisted that reports in the media show that the witness is not, in fact, new. He also added that there were previous cases where people being accused of voluntary murder were granted bail.

Philip Galea Farrugia, representing the Office of the Attorney General, said that the prosecution’s primary fear is that of tampering of evidence.

He said that investigations are still ongoing and that there may be further development. He added that the Court cannot mandate electronic tagging since there is no legislation associated with it. Galea Farrugia also raised the question that if the prisoners are to return to sleep in the prison in the evening, should that time be considered as part of the sentence if they are found guilty?

The lawyer representing the brothers said that his clients are ready to sleep in Corradino, and not have that time be taken off their sentence should they be found guilty. He also accused Melvin Theuma of not relating the truth as he should.