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MaltaToday 30 October 2022

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3 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 30 OCTOBER 2022 NEWS MALTA ĊERTEZZA U STABBILTÀ budget2023 drugs squad police arrived on the scene. The officers were told by the crew that around 20 people remained on board the vessel. Car bomb raised more questions than answers Cachia's car went up in flames on 16 January at around 9:15am as he was driving through Triq il-Latmija on Marsaskala's bypass. The car blew up after an explosive device went off. The driver lost con- trol of the vehicle, which hurtled along the road for around 100m be- fore crashing into a nearby wall. At the time, police were not ruling anything. Former assistant commis- sioner Silvio Valletta had said they could not conclusively say the death was a homicide due to the dynamics of the explosion. Since the bomb was most likely in- side the car when it went off, police had to establish whether someone placed the bomb inside the car with the intention of killing Cachia, or whether Cachia was knowingly trans- porting the bomb somewhere else. Elena is convinced that the bomb was placed in the car by a third party, especially given her husband's behav- iour before the murder. This wouldn't be far-fetched in hindsight. Most of the car bombs that had taken place in prior years saw the explosives placed underneath the car, which is what probably led police to consider the possibility that Mar- tin may have been transporting the bomb. But if Martin was assassinated, his death would have been the first ep- isode in a series, where car bombs started being placed inside the vehi- cle. Testimony given during the com- pilation of evidence into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia gives an insight into how this could have been pulled off. Superintendent Keith Arnaud had described how Robert Agius, known as Tal-Maksar, had acquired a vehicle similar to the one used by Caruana Galizia so that her executioners could practice lock-breaking. The Caruana Galizia bomb had been placed underneath the driver's seat with no apparent sign of break-in and was triggered remotely by a text message sent to a SIM card placed in- side the bomb. It remains unclear whether the bomb that killed Cachia had the same dynamics as the Caruana Galizia one. In her blog, the murdered journalist had pointed out a pattern among the criminal assassinations from the past decades. "Diesel smugglers are blown up by bombs in their cars, and drug smug- glers are shot dead by hired hitmen," she wrote. "The diesel smugglers are described as 'fishermen' or 'restaurateurs', and the drug smugglers are called long-distance lorry drivers or haul- iers, or 'unemployed family men' or 'businessmen', though some of them are occasionally described as 'known to the police'," Caruana Galizia had said. Martin Cachia and Pierre Darmanin She referred to one man, Josef Cas- sar, also a victim of a car bomb while he was driving along Marsa's Decem- ber 13 Road. Caruana Galizia alleged that Cassar was a diesel smuggler linked to the MV Silverking, a vessel owned by Sil- ver King Ltd, "whose only sharehold- ers are Pierre Darmanin, black sheep of the well-respected Tan-Niksu fam- ily of Żurrieq, and his estranged wife Annabelle". Caruana Galizia said the vessel was impounded by Customs three years prior, and Darmanin was named in a police and customs investigation into a diesel-smuggling ring. Darmanin went on to call the jour- nalist to clarify his position in rela- tion to this blog post. He told her that his company sold the MV Silverking when it was released from impound three years before. But according to Italian newspa- per La Repubblica, after hanging up from Caruana Galizia, Darmanin first called Economy Minister Chris Car- dona, followed by Alfred Degiorgio – one of the three hitmen convicted so far with Caruana Galizia's murder. Darmanin has always denied wrong- doing but his name had also appeared in court proceedings that concerned Martin Cachia. Court records included a letter, signed by Darmanin, dated 11 De- cember 2015, asking an unspecified recipient to allow Cachia to travel with him to Egypt. But Darmanin told Caruana Galizia that his signature was forged by Cachia. Elena tells MaltaToday that the purpose of this particular trip was to bring a large vessel to Malta from Damietta in Egypt. The vessel had a large space underneath to store fuel, she says. Whether this particular case had any bearing on her husband's demise, she cannot tell. The Cachia car bombing is one of several unsolved cases in which pow- erful bombs were used to eliminate criminals, smugglers and traffickers. These bombings culminated in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017. Almost seven years since Cachia's demise, his wife is convinced her hus- band was murdered but like many others she remains in the dark as to who may have ordered his death and who carried out the hit. Car bombs since 2016 16 October 2017: Daphne Caruana Galizia (mur- dered) Daphne Caruana Galizia is killed in a car bomb outside her house in Bidnija. Three men have been convicted of the hit after pleading guilty. Criminal cases against three others, including suspected mastermind Yorgen Fenech, are still ongoing. 20 February 2017: Romeo Bone (injured) Romeo Bone, 40, is grievously injured and even- tually loses both legs, after his car blew up while driving in Msida. Bone was well known with the police. Nobody has been charged with the bomb- ing. 29 January 2017: Victor Calleja (murdered) Victor Calleja, 61, dies when a bomb detonated in his car while driving from Marsa to Qormi next to the Maltapost headquarters. Calleja, known as Ic-Chippy, was also well known to the police. No- body has been charged with the bombing. 31 October 2016: John Camilleri (murdered) John Camilleri, 67, known as Giovann tas-Sapun, died when a bomb under his seat detonated at St Paul's Bay. The bomb was considered to be the most powerful one yet, and the car's roof ended up on a nearby penthouse. Camilleri owned S&S Bathrooms. Nobody has been charged with the murder. 26 September 2016: Josef Cassar (injured) Josef Cassar, 38, was targeted by a car explosive while driving in Marsa. Cassar, who was the sole director of S&T Services, survived but lost his legs. A passenger was also injured. The bomb, which was reportedly full of screws and ball bear- ings, was placed under his car. Nobody has been charged with the bombing. 16 January 2016: Martin Cachia (murdered) Martin Cachia, 56, was killed when a bomb deto- nated inside his car. It was not confirmed whether Cachia was the victim of the bomb, or if he was transporting it. Cachia was also known to the po- lice. Nobody has been charged with the bombing. Elena Cachia (right) and partner Martin Cachia: she wants justice

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