3 ordered to stand trial in murder of Maltese journalist

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VALLETTA, Malta (AP) — Three Maltese men believed to have triggered a powerful car bomb that killed investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia were ordered Thursday to stand trial for murder.

A magistrate ruled that evidence including mobile data and DNA results presented during the preliminary hearing were enough to support charges against Alfred and George Degiorgio and Vincent Muscat for the Oct. 16 murder. No trial date has been set.

The evidence against the three includes cell tower data showing all three suspects at the scene of the crime in the days leading up to the bombing, and DNA testing that show a cigarette butt found at a vantage point overlooking the attack scene had been smoked by Alfred Degiorgio. Witnesses had reported seeing a suspicious, unidentified car parked at the site in the days leading up to Caruana Galizia's killing.

The suspects, who remain in custody, were arrested Dec. 4 with seven other Maltese men, who have been released on police bail but remain under investigation in the case.

Investigators believe that the men were working for someone, but no mastermind has yet been identified. Investigator Keith Arnaud testified during the preliminary hearing that the three men refused to answer questions during police interrogation.

Caruana Galizia, 53, was killed when a bomb destroyed her car as she was driving near her home. It was a crime that shocked Malta and drew attention to corruption on the EU island nation.

Police believe the phone that sent the bomb detonation instruction was an old Nokia 105 and that the trigger SMS was sent from out at sea.

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