Caruana Galizia murder suspect says mobile phone data collected under invalid law

One of the men accused of the assasination of Daphne Caruana Galizia is arguing that electronic data about the case had been collected under a law which had been repealed by an EU directive

Alfred Degiorgio, one of the men accused of the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has filed a Constitutional application this afternoon.

Degiorgio argued that electronic data about the case had been collected under a law which had been repealed by an EU directive and demanded its removal from the case.

If upheld, the claim could cause serious problems to the prosecution of Degiorgio and his co-defendants.

In his application filed before the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional jurisdiction, lawyer William Cuschieri argued that EU Directive 2006/24/EC on the retention of data from electronic communications placed an obligation on service providers to keep user data for use by the national authorities. This directive was transposed into local law by Legal Notice 198 of 2008.

But in a 2014 case the Court of Justice of the European Union had declared the directive invalid. As a result, the legal notice transposing it into Maltese law was null and void, argued the defence.

This law breached the fundamental human right to private and family life, the right to freedom of opinion, the right to protection of personal data and other articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, Degiorgio argued

The law also breached the EU E-Privacy Directive 2002/58, together with a number of other local laws and legal notices which were all “invalid null and void,” he said.

Therefore the retaining of data by services providers and all access of this data by the authorities was illegal, Cuschieri submitted.

But the data had indeed been retained and passed on to court expert Martin Bajada, who had expressly requested it from service providers on the court’s authority. It had also been shared with the FBI.

Cuschieri requested the court to declare that all data gathered under the legal notice to have been done so illegally and declare it inadmissible in the proceedings against Degiorgio.

Caruana Galizia family allowed to intervene in suit

The court this morning upheld a request by the family of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia to intervene in a suit, filed by one of the persons accused of her murder to prevent the FBI from giving evidence.

Lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia, representing the Caruana Galizia family, made oral submissions upon the application requesting that the family be granted intervenor status in this constitutional suit.

Comodini Cachia argued that the family of the murdered journalist had a direct interest not only in the inquiry but in all other proceedings stemming from the assassination and not only as ‘parte civile’ in the murder compilation, but also in terms of a positive obligation by the state to safeguard the right to life.

Foreign experts had been working together with IT expert Martin Bajada, who had been appointed by the court to gather the electronic data likely to prove crucial to the prosecution’s case.

Cuschieri had also argued that his client’s rights would be prejudiced if the foreign experts were allowed to testify next week.

Lawyer Jason Azzopardi, also appearing for the Caruana Galizias, denounced Cuschieri’s arguments as “premature and frivolous,”  as the proceedings were still in the compilation stage.

Madam Justice Lorraine Schembri Orland will deliver a decision on the matter next week.

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