Police tapped mobiles 8 months prior to Daphne’s assassination

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar said in court that the police had started tapping the mobiles of the Degiorgoes, on the 20 February of 2017, eight months prior to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

He said this when he testified in a constitutional case filed by George Degiorgio, one of the accused. This case is investigating the validity of tapped mobiles and the law which allows this.

Degiorgio filed this case last year, saying that prosecutors bragged about the tapping of mobiles which were crucial to identify the accused.

The main investigator of this case, the Inspector Keith Arnaud, told the Maltese Secret Services to tap mobiles in order to help the police in making sense of the evidence available. Arnaud explained to Judge Toni Abela that the major part of the evidence used by the police was lifted from the crime scene, together with forensic evidence and the digital information that was collected from those providing the service.

The information from the mobiles was analysed by the FBI as well as Maltese investigators. According to Arnaud, help from the FBI was crucial to identify five mobile numbers, two directly linked with the equipment that activated the bomb, and three more mobiles which were then found to be fake, allegedly used by the suspects to confuse the tapping of their personal mobiles.

It was George Degiorgio’s phonecall from his personal mobile on the day of the explosion that led the investigators to suspect that Degiorgio had asked them to top not his own mobile, but another one. But the phonecall that was tapped by the Malta Secret Service (MSS) would not have been enough. Arnaud said that this phonecall alone, amounted to nothing on its own.

Arnaud explained that there were two factors in the investigation: the tapped mobiles and the analysis of the suspects’ phonecalls. This analysis showed the number of a third party who was contacted by George Degiorgio slightly prior to the explosion. Arnaud said that the third party then confirmed Degiorgio’s message.

The investigator went on to explain that the tappings showed one of the fake mobiles was connected to one of the numbers that was attached with the explosive equipment. He added that the Degiorgio brothers were suspects in relation to crimes of the same kind.

Degiorgio’s lawyer asked the investigator whether he had confirmed if the MSS had a warrant for tapping. Arnaud explained that this was not his duty but that he had passed on a report to the Commissioner back in February 20th of 2017, asking him to request MSS’ help in the monitoring of Degiorgio in relation to other cases. Arnaud said that he had never seen the warrant.