Daphne’s murder: No one testifies after parties caught on procedural point

Monique Agius

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The gathering of evidence against murder suspect Yorgen Fenech continued on Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday, the defence team filed a court application erroneously requesting to summon their witnesses in the next sitting, however, since the records of the case were already with the presiding magistrate, the application is deemed to be late.

The prosecution will be summoning its witnesses on Wednesday.

Yorgen Fenech stands accused with complicity in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

13:37 Thank you for following this live blog.
Monique Agius
13:37 The case will continue on Tuesday at 11am.
Monique Agius
13:36 A visibly disappointed Magistrate informs the parties that today's sitting and that on 17 December were scheduled to have more witnesses summoned.

"We'll see," she says before leaving the courtroom.
Monique Agius
13:36 The case was postponed until 17 November at 11 am. The sitting will not last more than 2pm.
Monique Agius
13:34 The prosecution informs the court that there were witnesses summoned to testify. However the Magistrate says that the court has to decide on the request for the reference to the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional jurisdiction before proceedings can continue.
Monique Agius
13:28 Dr Galea Farrugia notes that the police was in charge of summoning the prosecution's witnesses.
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13:27 The defence requested the AG to consider identifying the witnesses listed by the accused in his application.
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13:26 The Prosecution adds that it has no objection to a request for all evidence to be preserved since it is the prosecution's duty to bring forward all evidence related to the case.
Monique Agius
13:24 "In the AG's renvoi, I used to do it, don't know if my colleague does the same…" before he stops abruptly and adds that he will not continue until Dr Azzopardi brings himself into line.

Dr Azzopardi is seated holding his head between his hands.

The court says that it did not hear or see anything, insisting that the bickering between the teams is becoming unbearable.
Monique Agius
13:21 Dr Mercieca interrupts Dr Galea Farrugia with Magistrate Montebello intervening and saying "basic respect to the court".
Monique Agius
13:15 Dr Galea Farrugia describes the defence's request as frivolous and vexatious. He adds that it is up to the defence to show how the decree is breaching the rights of the accused.
Monique Agius
13:14 Dr Mercieca argues that a reason for the defence request on 3 November was to preserve evidence. He requests that an order is given so that evidence is presented and left untouched. He's referring to the recordings.
Monique Agius
13:13 Written submissions have to be presented until 17 November.
Monique Agius
13:12 The defence has until 13 November to present its application. The Commissioner of Police, the AG and parte civile have to be formally notified.

Dr Mercieca asks why the parte civile should be copied in. The Magistrate snaps: "That's what the court ordered."
Monique Agius
13:11 Magistrate Montebello asks Dr Mercieca whether he is implying that the Court is breaching their client's fundamental rights. She stops him from dictating the application, as Mercieca is insisting on making oral arguments.
Monique Agius
13:08 Dr Mercieca tells the court that the defence will not be asking for proceedings to be halted until that matter is decided.

Magistrate Montebello instructs the defence to make their request through a written note.
Monique Agius
13:05 Dr Mercieca asks the court permission to refer the issue to the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional Jurisdiction and then suspend these proceedings until the First Hall Civil Court decides on the fair hearing and equality of arms complaint.
Monique Agius
13:04 The decision goes the attorney general's way with the court saying it could not censure a maneuvre by the Attorney General aimed at speeding up the case and denies the request put forward by the defence.
Monique Agius
13:00 The court reads out its decree.

It says that it cannot base its decree on the time when the acts were presented, over and above the fact that this is not indicated. The court adds that it does not agree that it should see who presented its request first to determine who should testify first.

The court received the records on 3 November the Magistrate said, adding that it is not for the court to investigate who filed the request and when. Further, it does not appear that the AG "knew" of the accused's requests when he sent the records to the court.
Monique Agius
12:52 Dr Mercieca stands up to add some remarks. The prosecution is whispering.

The magistrate adds: "I hope the Court heard wrongly".
Monique Agius
12:51 Dr Marion Camilleri remarks that the AG's renvoi was for the sitting scheduled for 2 December.

"Nowhere did the AG request that the sitting is brought forward. This was requested by the accused," she remarks.
Monique Agius
12:50 Dr Mercieca insists that the Deputy Attorney General has not said at what time the renvoi was presented.
Monique Agius
12:50 Dr Mercieca insists that Fenech is making a point that the Criminal Court took into consideration the application irrespective of who the presiding judge is.
Monique Agius
12:47 Dr Galea Farrugia remarks that he appreciates that Dr Mercieca has pointed out this fact.

At 12.40pm there was a decree informing that the judge recused himself. At 1pm it was assigned to another judge.

"According to this, despite the numerous allegations of bad faith, I had 20 minutes to write a renvoi which arrived at the One Stop Shop and was delivered before Magistrate Montebello. This shows that my submissions make sense," Dr Galea Farrugia says.

He adds that the decree counts and not the application.
Monique Agius
12:46 Dr Mercieca says that they received the decree issued by Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera who was presiding over the Criminal Court at 12.40pm on 3 November.
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12:44 She steps off the witness stand.
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12:43 Dr Mercieca asks the witness who signed the documents. She replies that she cannot tell since she was not the one to sign for them.

She explains that as far as procedure goes, whoever signed it will have taken note of the date and time they were received, adding she was not the one to receive them.
Monique Agius
12:41 The witness takes the stand again.
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12:40 Dr Mercieca says he wished to ask her a question.
Monique Agius
12:40 The witness leaves the stand.
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12:39 The acts before the Criminal Court were also received on 3 November. There are two boxes. They were delivered at 1pm.
Monique Agius
12:37 The witness says that there is no record of the time.
Monique Agius
12:37 Dr Mercieca can be seen grinning.
Monique Agius
12:36 The acts of the proceedings were registered on 3 November, however, whoever presented them had written down 2 November, the witness says.
Monique Agius
12:35 Asked about the court application filed by Fenech's defence counsel on 3 November, the witness says that the time is not taken down and the time in which it was delivered to the relevant courtroom.
Monique Agius
12:35 An assistant court registrar Maria Dolores Fenech takes the stand.
Monique Agius
12:34 We're back in session.
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12:07 We're still waiting for the Court Registrar to be summoned to testify.
Monique Agius
11:33 The sitting has been suspended.
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11:31 Dr Mercieca requests that the Court's Registrar is summoned to testify on this.
Monique Agius
11:29 The former lawyer at the AG office now appearing for Fenech, Dr Mercieca, says that Fenech has a right to a fair hearing.
Monique Agius
11:29 Dr Galea Farrugia warns Dr Mercieca of making serious accusation, urging for caution.

He maintains that Mercieca should retract the accusation leveled against the AG on the tampering of evidence, warning that otherwise measures will be taken against the lawyer.
Monique Agius
11:28 Dr Galea Farrugia says that the AG presented its renvoi on 4 November. The acts of the compilation arrive after 3pm. He underlines that the AG was not aware of judge Scerri Herrera's recusal before.
Monique Agius
11:27 "The court is not a springboard for the media," Magistrate Montebello warns.
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11:26 Dr Galea Farrugia accuses the defence of putting up a media stunt.

Dr Mercieca objects.
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11:25 Magistrate Montebello says that the parte civile has no locus standi on this proceedings.
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11:25 Dr Azzopardi informs the court that the parte civile wants to make a declaration, with Dr Mercieca arguing that the parte civile had no right.
Monique Agius
11:24 "Why hasn't the AG presented the evidence a year later? Why is he stopping the accused from presenting his evidence? All of this will be shown to the jurors. We will show them what the AG did," Dr Mercieca complains.
Monique Agius
11:23 Dr Mercieca accuses the AG of blocking the accused every time the defence makes a request.
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11:22 Dr Mercieca argues that if the AG's renvoi is accepted, a precedent would be created in Maltese legal history that the accused cannot summon his witnesses.
Monique Agius
11:22 The murder suspect reportedly told his lawyer that this evidence shows the truth.
Monique Agius
11:22 Dr Mercieca maintains that Fenech has to cede his right to a fair hearing for a month.
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11:20 Dr Mercieca maintains that after the judge recused herself, the AG did the renvoi. He accuses the AG of tampering with the accused's evidence.

The accused filed an application under Article 405(5) to summon his witnesses.
Monique Agius
11:18 Dr Mercieca maintains that until the moment that Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera abstained from the case, the renvoi was brought to the attention of the Criminal Court. The Court declared this the following day. Mercieca claims that the AG did the renvoi later, adding that the AG did not state the time in which the renvoi was done.
Monique Agius
11:17 Renvoi or 'rinviju' is the sending of proceedings to another court or institution.
Monique Agius
11:16 The prosecution objects with the Court telling them that this not the way to address the court.

Dr Mercieca remarks that the prosecution is objecting because they have "something to hide".
Monique Agius
11:11 Dr Mercieca explains that on 3 November the accused made a renvoi. Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera recused herself from the case. Dr Mercieca notes that the AG had sent the records of the case immediately. He adds that it is important for the Court to note how quickly the AG did the renvoi.
Monique Agius
11:11 Dr Mercieca says that he would like to address some issues in the AG's reply to the court application filed by Fenech.
Monique Agius
11:07 Dr Philip Galea Farrugia informs the court that the AG has replied to the application this morning.
Monique Agius
11:07 Dr Caruana Curran is currently under mandatory quarantine, Dr Mercieca informs the court.
Monique Agius
11:06 Magistrate Montebello says that the court is yet to decide on Fenech's application which was filed yesterday.
Monique Agius
11:06 We're in session.
Monique Agius
11:02 Police Inspector Keith Arnaud walks into the courtroom.
Monique Agius
11:00 Fenech is having a word with one of his lawyers, Charles Mercieca.
Monique Agius
10:59 The family of the slain journalist is also in the courtroom. While Police Inspector Keith Arnaud was spotted outside the courtroom.
Monique Agius
10:59 Murder suspect Yorgen Fenech has just entered the courtroom. He greets his wife.
Monique Agius
10:58 We're live from Hall 22.
Monique Agius
10:56 Good morning and welcome to this live blog.
Monique Agius

During the last sitting, it transpired that a team of three medical experts was appointed by the court to assess whether state witness Melvin Theuma is fit to continue testifying before the court.

At the end of the sitting, Dr Mercieca who is appearing for Fenech asked about Theuma’s health to which Magistrate Rachel Montebello replied that medical experts who have been asked to assess his health turned down the brief leading to the appointment of a team of three by the court.

Magistrate Rachel Montebello is presiding over the case.

Police Inspectors Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra are prosecuting.

Dr Philip Galea Farrugia is appearing for the Attorney General’s Office.

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

Lawyers Marion Camilleri, Gianluca Caruana Curran and Charles Mercieca are appearing for the accused.