The Malta Security Service does not agree with the conclusion reached by a judge that it breached the privacy rights of murder suspect George Degiorgio with an unauthorised phone tap, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri has said.
Camilleri told Times of Malta that the MSS was appealing the decision which on Tuesday ordered it to pay Degiorgio €10,000 in damages.
Degiorgio, who will face trial for the 2017 murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, had challenged the validity of phone tapping laws.
Mr Justice Toni Abela ruled that the MSS breached Degiorgio’s right to privacy because the security service had not obtained a new warrant to tap his phone when a previous one, obtained in relation to other suspected crimes, expired.
While urgent cases warranted less red tape, that did not excuse authorities’ decision to continue spying on Degiorgio without a warrant, it concluded.
According to Maltese law, the MSS is responsible for tapping phones and it can only do so after obtaining a warrant signed by the prime minister or home affairs minister.
Investigators were listening in on Degiorgio’s phone eight months before Caruana Galizia was assassinated, as they suspected him of being involved in other crimes.
The court was not shown any evidence that police sought a fresh warrant to spy on Degiorgio in relation to the Caruana Galizia case, the judge concluded.
The timing of the initial wiretap meant it was clearly not related to the murder, the court said, expressing consternation at the fact that Degiorgio was being spied on even after it expired.
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