ROME – Three men were charged on Tuesday with murdering investigative Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in a mid-October car-bomb explosion, local media reported.
The accused, all of whom have criminal records, are brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio and Vince Muscat, and they are part of a group of 10 people arrested on Monday in relation to the crime, the daily Times of Malta reported.
Although the trio have pleaded not guilty, Maltese judges also charged them with the crimes of illegal possession of weapons and bomb-making materials.
Investigators are now trying to determine if the arrested people were the simply the perpetrators of the blast that killed the reporter or if they also conceived the plot.
The Times of Malta said that the three accused are well known to security forces: Muscat was involved in a shooting in 2014 and was accused of participating in a failed HSBC bank heist in 2010 and trying to kill a police officer.
In addition, the fingerprints of Alfred Degiorgio were found on items used in the theft of an armored van and his brother George was accused in the past of weapons possession and drug trafficking.
The other seven subjects arrested in the police operation on Monday could be released on bail in the near future, the paper reported.
The arrests followed an operation that lasted several weeks and involved police, the armed forces and security services, assisted as well by the US FBI and the European Police Office.
Caruana Galizia – who was known for investigating the links between the Maltese political class, including Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his wife, with the Panama Papers and other cases of corruption – died when her car blew up on Oct. 16 near her home.
Her murder shocked Maltese public opinion and surprised the world, given that it came in a European country, and the prime minister asked for the cooperation of the island nation’s international partners in solving the crime, saying he felt sure that the plot had been hatched “outside Malta.”
The crime outraged the public both in Malta and abroad, though the journalist’s sons, Matthew, Andrew and Paul, railed against the government.
Matthew said Malta was a Mafia state in which the government had allowed a culture of impunity to flourish and demanded that Muscat resign.
“He filled his office with crooks, then he filled the police with crooks and imbeciles, then he filled the courts with crooks and incompetents,” he said.