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MaltaToday 24 March 2021 MIDWEEK

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2 maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 24 MARCH 2021 NEWS MATTHEW AGIUS MURDER suspect Adrian Agius want- ed Carmel Chircop dead because the lawyer was chasing him to pay up a substantial debt, the court has heard. Agius owed Chircop hundreds of thousands and was concerned about his villa at Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, convicted murderer Vince Muscat testified on Tuesday. This was why Agius had approached George Degiorgio for a hit job to get rid of the lawyer, Muscat said. Chircop was eventually shot dead in a garage complex in Birkirkara in Oc- tober 2015. MaltaToday had reported last year how Chircop had been one of the 'in- vestors' in the mysterious More Su- permarkets bust, the one that saw Ry- an Schembri, a cousin of former PM chief of staff Keith Schembri, flee the island. Chircop had loaned a substantial sum to people connected to the More Supermarkets, where millions are said to have been lost after Ryan Schembri fled the island. In March 2014, Chir- cop entered into a contract with Ryan Schembri, then appearing as director of the company Erom Limited, to loan him the sum of €750,000. Agius had also appeared as a debtor on the contract and put up his villa as collateral. Adrian Agius, his brother Robert, Jamie Vella and George Degiorgio are charged with the murder and Muscat was granted a presidential pardon to tell all. The four men are also charged in relation to Daphne Caruana Gali- zia's murder. At the end of yesterday's sitting, Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo ruled there was enough prima facie evidence to indict the accused. Muscat gave a blow by blow account of how Chircop was gunned down in the morning as he opened his garage. The assassins arrived at dawn and parked in a dark spot inside the garage complex. "We knew he'd soon be there and Vella kept watch… Our car was always running, never off. As Chircop ap- peared… Jamie opened the window... The lawyer was alone. He went up the ramp, opened the garage door. As soon as the key lock popped we drove up to him and fired between four and five shots," Muscat recounted. Vella was the one who used the weapon – a pistol that would not dis- card empty shells. Chircop was shot from a distance of 1.5m. Muscat testified how he had received €5,000 before the murder, another €10,000 from George Degiorgio a cou- ple of days after the assassination and €5,000 from Robert Agius some 10 days later. Muscat, who has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for his involvement in the Daphne Caruana Galizia mur- der, is testifying in the compilation of evidence against brothers Adrian and Robert Agius, known as Tal-Maksar, Jamie Vella and George Degiorgio. Muscat was given a presidential par- don to tell all on the Chircop murder. Murdered lawyer was chasing accused to pay up substantial debt, Kohhu tells court LAURA CALLEJA INDEPENDENT candidate Arnold Cassola has requested an ethics investigation by the Standards Commissioner in- to a €5,000-a-month contract to Ghajnsielem coach Daniel Bogdanovic, by the education ministry. In his request to commis- sioner George Hyzler, Casso- la claimed Bogdanovic was a boyfriend of minister Justyne Caruana. The story was broken by MaltaToday on Sunday, where it was reported that Bogdanovic was given a €15,000 contract to carry out a three-month survey of sports education curric- ula across various Maltese schools. The education ministry has previously denied that Bogdanovic, who obtained government employment through the Community Work Scheme, was a member of the minister's secretariat despite evidence to the con- trary. In a statement, the NGO Re- pubblika called Caruana's de- cision to give Bogdanovic the contract "nasty and unaccept- able behaviour". "Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mal- ta, more than a year ago, the Ministry of Education has stopped payments for schol- arships for many students, it has also stopped payments for educational projects in schools and left teachers with old and outdated laptops to teach children online while schools are closed," Repub- blika said. "This footballer, who has no qualifications in the educa- tion sector, has been hired to, among others, tour schools in a period where schools are closed due to COVID-19. "At a time when every penny should go to mitigate the im- pact that students are suffer- ing because of the COVID-19 measures, the minister is go- ing to squander the people's money on her friend. What will Robert Abela do about Minister Justyne Caruana?" the NGO asked. Education Minister Justyne Caruana Standards Commissioner asked to investigate Bogdanovic €5,000-a-month job 90 new cases of COVID-19 were registered on Tuesday, the health ministry has said. 150,897 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered until Monday. Of which 45,286 were second doses. Total recoveries stand at 25,555, while total cases registered stand at 28,409. There are 2,479 active COVID-19 cases. Two persons died in the last 24-hours. A 76-year-old man and a 63-year-old woman both at Mater Dei Hospital. The total number of deaths is 375. 2,661 swab tests were carried out in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of swabs to 789,809. 90 new infections is lowest in six weeks COVID-19 Vince Muscat EDUCATION Minister Justyne Caruana was hospitalised earlier to- day and is being held for observation, a government statement said. The statement released on Tues- day afternoon did not elaborate but added that the minister's condition was "stable". Caruana was cast in the spot- light over the past couple of days when MaltaToday revealed that she awarded a consultancy contract for €5,000 per month to her friend foot- baller Daniel Bogdanovich. Government sources told Malta- Today that earlier in the day, Caru- ana was involved in a row with min- istry officials. Justyne Caruana in 'stable' condition after hospitalisation

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