Hitmen brothers are serving 40 years for the murder of Maltese journalists

Hitmen brothers are serving 40 years for the murder of Maltese journalists


Two killer brothers were each sentenced to 40 years in prison on Friday for killing a prominent journalist in Malta five years ago, an assassination that sparked an international outcry.

The killing sparked mass protests in Malta and eventually led to the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

George and Alfred Degiorgio were sentenced on the first day of their trial for the 2017 killing of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

In the dramatic trial, they pleaded not guilty before a judge that morning before changing their pleas hours later.

“Their position has changed…they plead guilty,” defense attorney Simon Micallef Stafrace told the court ahead of the sentencing.

The car bombing murder of 53-year-old investigative journalist Caruana Galizia, dubbed a “one-woman WikiLeaks” by WikiLeaks, has sparked widespread outrage internationally.

Caruana Galizia, one of the country’s most prominent public figures, has been a vocal critic of the country’s political elite, who have accused her of nepotism and corruption via her blog.

The Oct. 16, 2017 car bombing near her home came hours after she posted a message that read: “There are crooks everywhere you look. The situation is desperate.”

“Today’s verdict is another important step towards justice for the Caruana Galizia family,” Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela wrote on Twitter.

Still awaiting trial is wealthy Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech, who prosecutors believe is the suspected mastermind behind the murder.

– ‘Discover your friends’ –

The much-delayed trial of the brothers, who were charged with murder, causing a deadly explosion and criminal conspiracy, among other charges, began on Friday with a dramatic outburst from the accused George Degiorgio

“Don’t you know who killed Daphne?” Degiorgio called the prosecutor’s office when he arrived in court.

“Your friends, the ones you’ve rubbed shoulders with… Go examine them!”

A third killer, Vincent Muscat, pleaded guilty to murder last year and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

As the trial opened, Judge Edwina Grima said a defense motion to stay the trial was denied because attorneys said they did not have time to prepare.

Observers in the courtroom on Friday included representatives from press freedom groups, including Reporters Without Borders and the European Center for Press and Media Freedom.

– Malta Spotlight –

The Degiorgio brothers said last year they were willing to implicate a former government minister in exchange for a pardon that was not granted.

George Degiorgio admitted to the crime during an interview from prison in July, calling it “just business”.

He reiterated his previously stated plea of ??not guilty in court early Friday.

His wheelchair-bound brother Alfred said, “I have nothing to say,” which the court found not guilty.

But within hours, both had changed their pleas to guilty.

The killing of Caruana Galizia sparked global outrage and put Malta, the European Union’s smallest member state, in the spotlight for its apparent flaws in the rule of law.

Joseph Muscat resigned as prime minister over the affair in January 2020 after mass protests against his alleged efforts to protect friends and allies from the investigation.

A public inquiry into Caruana Galizia’s 2021 murder found the state should shoulder responsibility for her death, creating a “climate of impunity” for those who tried to silence her.

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