A man who has admitted to taking part in the 2017 murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia gave his first detailed account of the plot on Thursday, telling a court how the anti-corruption journalist was tracked and killed.
Vince Muscat was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in February after admitting his involvement in the murder, which shocked Europe, as part of a plea bargain.
In his first public statement since pleading guilty, Muscat apologised to members of Caruana Galizia's family, who were sitting in the courtroom.
He described how the original plan to shoot the journalist was dropped in favour of a using car bomb, with the alleged group of assailants hiring a car similar to the one Caruana Galizia drove to practice breaking into it.
Two brothers, Alfred and George Degiorgio, are accused of working alongside Muscat on the hit, which police say was ordered by local tycoon Yorgen Fenech. Only Muscat has pleaded guilty, while the others have all denied any wrongdoing.
In pre-trial testimony against the Degiorgio brothers, Muscat said Alfred had got him on board, telling him they would be paid 150,000 euros ($179,580) for the murder.
They followed Caruana Galizia's movements for weeks, with George pushing to use a bomb because it could be planted at night, making it easier to avoid detection, Muscat said.
While keeping watch over her house, they noticed on the night of October 15, 2017 that, unusually, she had parked her car outside the gate of her home. Muscat said he picked up the bomb, which was hidden in a shoebox, and met up with the other hitmen. The trio placed the device beneath the driver's seat.
At 5am the next morning, Muscat and Alfred returned to a vantage point overlooking the house. In the early afternoon they saw Caruana Galizia drive off and informed George, who was in a boat off shore, ready to trigger the bomb remotely.
He detonated the bomb before his brother had given him the go-ahead. Caruana Galizia's car was out of sight and Muscat said they did not hear the explosion. "I thought it didn't go off, it was no good," he said.
Then they looked back and saw a plume of smoke.
A few weeks later, Muscat met Alfred Degiorgio, who warned of looming police raids. They found out about the date of their arrest two or three weeks ahead of time.
Muscat said Degiorgio had told him he was getting information from Chris Cardona, who was then economic services minister and had often been attacked in Caruana Galizia's blogs. Cardona has always denied any involvement in, or knowledge of the murder case.
The three alleged hitmen were eventually arrested on December 4, 2017. They made sure they were together in the same place when the police arrived. They expected to be released after a few days, but bail was repeatedly refused. ($1 = 0.8353 euros)