Maltese businessman charged with complicity to murder journalist

One of Malta’s wealthiest men, Yorgen Fenech, was charged in a Valletta court on Saturday with complicity to murder in the car bomb killing of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017.

Fenech pleaded not guilty to the charge and to other charges related to the case.

The probe into the murder of Caruana Galizia, a journalist who investigated and exposed corruption, has developed into a political crisis for the government of prime minister, Joseph Muscat.

Official sources said Muscat was expected to make a statement announcing his resignation later on Saturday or on Sunday. No official statement has been issued.

Maltese media had said earlier that Muscat planned to announce his resignation if charges were filed against Fenech. Asked about this before Fenech was charged, a spokesman for the prime minister said that Muscat “has pledged various times he wants to see this case through.”

Fenech, 38, was taken to court under a heavy armed police escort almost two years to the day since three men were charged with having set off the bomb that killed the journalist on16 October 2017.

The three have pleaded not guilty and are still awaiting trial.

Fenech is believed by police to havemasterminded the plot.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bomb explosion in 2017.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bomb explosion in 2017. Photograph: AFP via Getty Images

Fenech had not commented publicly on the accusation until Friday when he spoke to journalists, saying the “truth will come out”.

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

The Maltese government accepted Theuma’s pardon request but later turned down another request for a pardon by Fenech.

Muscat has been in power since 2013, having won two general elections in a row, the last in 2017. His Labour party is expected to hold a leadership election in January.


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