“If I had known, I would have gone for ten million. Not 150 thousand,” he said, referring to the amount in euros he said he paid for the journalist’s murder.
“For me it was just business. Yes, business as usual!” He told a Reuters reporter. He later added, “Of course I feel sorry.”
His admission came after several attempts by DiGiorgio’s lawyers since 2021 to secure a pardon in exchange for testimony about DiGiorgio’s role in the Caruana Galizia murder and other alleged crimes implicating prominent figures on the island.
On 22 June, the Malta Court of Appeal dismissed Digiorgio’s remaining legal appeals to the murder charges against him and his brother Alfred, the co-accused. The ruling paves the way for the trial to proceed.
The assassination of an investigative journalist and blogger by a car bomb sent shockwaves through Europe. Maltese authorities have accused Digiorgio and two other men – his brother Alfred and his partner Vince Muscat – of killing Caruana Galizia in October 2017 at the behest of a prominent businessman on the island.
DiGiorgio told Reuters he would plead guilty before any jury trial. He said, “I will speak to the judge.” He indicated that he would provide testimony implicating others in the murder and in a previous unfounded plot to kill the journalist. His motive, he said, was to seek leniency for himself and Alfred and to make sure we “won’t back down alone!”
So far, the Digiorgio brothers have denied their involvement in the murder. Muscat pleaded guilty to the murder charges in 2020 and was sentenced to a reduced 15-year prison term in exchange for testifying about this case and some other crimes.
One of the island’s richest businessmen, Jürgen Fenech, was also accused in November 2019 of commissioning DiGiorgio and his associates to carry out the strike. Fenech has denied the charge but has yet to present his defense. In a statement, his attorney, Gianluca Caruana Curran, said Fenech intended to prove in court that he “was not at any time wanted or actively sought the assassination of Caruana Galizia or his sponsorship.”
“While Mr. Fenech vigorously protests his innocence, he maintains that with evidence available, independent and serious investigations can lead to the arrest and prosecution of the real perpetrators behind the assassination.”
Fenech was identified as mastermind by an alleged middleman, taxi driver Melvin Theoma, who evaded prosecution for his role in the case in exchange for testifying. Theoma said that he arranged the crime with the Digiorgio brothers on behalf of Fenech. He testified that he never told the identity of Digiorgio Fenech’s gang.
In the interview, Digiorgio said he was willing to testify that a prominent Maltese political figure had tried to arrange a strike on Caruana Galizia in a separate plot two years earlier. DiGiorgio also said he would offer to testify about the involvement of two former ministers in an armed robbery.
Reuters has not at this point published further details of those allegations or the naming of individuals accused by DiGiorgio, all of whom deny any involvement in any crime.
The Malta Police Force and prosecutors handling the murder case did not respond to requests for official comment on DiGiorgio’s comments.
In another statement to Reuters via their attorneys, George and Alfred DiGiorgio said they are seeking a judgment on admission “in line with that already delivered to Vincent Muscat. We are willing to disclose everything we know about the murders, bombs and other crimes provided we have obtained a pardon, We stress the need for justice for the families of other victims.”
Caruana Galizia was murdered after she made a series of corruption allegations against prominent figures, including ministers in the island’s Labor government. Her murder raised suspicions that some of the people she was investigating were involved in planning her death.
Fenech, accused of issuing the 2017 hit, was first identified in connection with Caruana Galizia in November 2018 articles by Reuters and The Times of Malta. The report stated that he was the owner of a company known as 17 Black which Caruana Galizia claimed, without citing evidence, was being used to bribe politicians. Fenech was also the head of a controversial power plant project in Malta.
According to the prosecution’s evidence presented in court at multiple preliminary hearings since 2018, George DiGiorgio and his gang tracked the journalist throughout the summer of 2017. In the early hours of October 16, 2017, prosecutors allege that the gang planted a bomb under a seat. in her car.
That afternoon, DiGiorgio was allegedly on a yacht in the island’s Grand Harbor when his brother Alfred, who was watching the house, called to say Caruana Galizia got into her car and drove off. Prosecutors told the court that DiGiorgio then sent a text message from the yacht to a mobile device that detonated the bomb.
After the car exploded, Caruana Galizia’s son Matthew heard the explosion and walked out of the family home and discovered his mother’s body. He has been fighting for justice for his mother ever since. Asked about DiGiorgio’s comments, he told Reuters: “George DiGiorgio’s words show that he is a murderer who does not deserve any delay.”
George DiGiorgio was arrested two months after the murder, he said nothing to the police, and even refrained from revealing his name during interrogation. Until the Reuters interview, he had remained silent, and his lawyers had spent four years denying his involvement in the murder. He also filed a series of legal challenges to challenge the evidence against him.
But he is now seeking to cut a pre-trial deal with the prosecution in exchange for admitting the charges and providing the new information.
Alfred DiGiorgio, like his brother, pleaded not guilty to the murder charges but did not present his case. He has also made several requests for a pardon from the charges in exchange for testifying about what he knows.
Jorge DiGiorgio said that before taking the striking job, he didn’t know much about Caruana Galizia or her family, including the fact that they were ordinary people, not criminals. “That’s it,” he said. “Of course! I’ve never met her in her life.”
The DiGiorgio brothers have submitted several bids since March 2021 to obtain an official pardon for their crimes. Attorney William Koshiri, whose attorney filed on April 4, without giving names or details, said the DiGiorgios could testify to “the crimes of attempted violent robbery and attempted murder in which one author was a minister and another author who is a minister.” The Maltese government rejected the request on April 24, claiming the national interest and the administration of justice, according to an official statement.
The Prime Minister of Malta, Robert Abela, had previously denounced the Digiorgios’ attempts to win a pardon, calling them “criminals” seeking to buy their freedom. Cuschieri, the lawyer for the Degiorgios family, responded by saying the prime minister was violating their rights to a fair trial and, without providing details, said the two brothers had “direct information” about a minister’s involvement in the crime.