Businessman charged with complicity to murder in death of Malta journalist

Cheryl Sanders
December 1, 2019

Three people are awaiting trial for Caruana Galizia's murder in a vehicle bombing but the police investigation is now focusing on who ordered the killing and why.

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of the capital Valletta Friday evening after Muscat refused to give immunity to the main suspect in the 2017 murder, tycoon Yorgen Fenech - charged on Saturday with complicity in the mother-of-three's killing - to disclose what he knows.

Investigators, who included members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Europol, subsequently told a court that the bomb was set off from a yacht off Valletta harbor. "He will make announcements in due course".

Before the Magistrates' Court, Fenech, 38, was charged with organising and financing a crime, being an accomplice in the crime and conspiring with third persons to commit a crime with the use of explosives.

With music from a nearby bar drifting into the courtroom, the businessman made no application for bail.

"I immediately denied that the letter came from me when the police were interrogating me and I stand by that completely", Schembri told the Times of Malta.

Sources briefed on the murder investigation told Reuters that police regard Fenech as the mastermind of the journalist's killing.

Fenech had previously implicated Muscat's chief of staff Keith Schembri, who resigned from his government post earlier this week.

The family said: "We now expect the Prime Minister to leave office, and parliament, with immediate effect to allow a free and full investigation into his and Keith Schembri's role in Daphne's assassination".

Fenech was arrested on November 20, days after another man, Melvin Theuma, was arrested in a money-laundering case and immediately told police he had been the middleman in the murder plot and offered information in return for a pardon.

Those same sources said he is likely to stay on until the party holds a leadership election in mid-January.

The Prime Minister has defended his chief of staff for three whole years since the Panama Papers uncovered how Schembri and Konrad Mizzi opened companies in Panama and had as a target client, 17 Black, a Dubai company that eventually turned out to belong to Fenech.

Schembri was arrested on Tuesday, but his release on Thursday sparked accusations of a cover-up.

"When he came to power, Muscat by many was considered too young, too go-getting, too self assured", a local newspaper has said, adding however that he injected a "fresh feeling" into the party. They had been accused by Caruana Galizia of being involved in corruption, which they denied.

Mizzi on Tuesday denied any business links with Fenech and any wrongdoing.

Caruana Galizia had alleged in her blog eight months before her death that a company called 17 Black Ltd. that was listed in the documents was connected to Maltese politicians. The project reported a year ago that Malta's anti-laundering watchdog had identified Fenech as 17 Black's owner.

Mizzi has denied any business ties to Fenech or knowledge of 17 Black or any criminal activity.

Caruana Galizia's reporting was continued by the Daphne Project, determined to root out wrongdoing in Malta, which is a financial haven for many business figures from overseas.

Relatives of the assassinated blogger were present in the court in Valletta.

Other reports by iNewsToday