30 November 2019 04:42
AFP reported sources had told the agency Fenech had identified Schembri as the mastermind behind Caruana Galizia's 2017 car bomb killing. Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is under increasing pressure to resign amid protests over the latest twist in the case of murdered investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. The Times of Malta reported on Friday that had Muscat privately told associates he planned to resign imminently. The prime minister later said he had reported Fenech to the police for attempted blackmail, claiming the mogul had threatened to implicate him in the affair if he was not given a pardon. "The killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia was a terrorist mafia act carried out by our state," activist Manuel Delia told AFP.
Open this photo in gallery Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addresses a press conference after an urgent Cabinet meeting at the Auberge de Castille in Valletta, Malta, Nov. 29, 2019. Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is set to resign as the case of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia inflicts grievous damage on the government's top ranks, according to reports. The Times of Malta and other local media reported on Friday afternoon that Mr. Muscat had told the President of Malta, George Vella, that he intends to step down, paving the way for a leadership contest. On Friday evening, as another mass anti-Muscat rally filled the streets of Valletta, the capital, the government in a statement said that media reports of a split in cabinet were a "total invention." Since October, 2017, when Ms. Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car-bomb explosion, he and several of his closest associates and cabinet members have faced accusations of corruption, conflict of interest and stalling the delivery of justice in the case of the slain journalist. Open this photo in gallery Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech, who was arrested in connection with an investigation into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, leaves the Courts of Justice, in Valletta, Malta, on Nov. 29, 2019.
The escalating murder investigation has rocked the tiny Mediterranean island and reached the highest rungs of the country's politics, with two ministers and Muscat's chief of staff Keith Schembri stepping down from their posts this week. Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of the capital Valletta after Muscat refused to give immunity to the main suspect in the 2017 murder, tycoon Yorgen Fenech, to disclose what he knows about the case. Fenech has identified Schembri as the mastermind behind Caruana Galizia's 2017 car bomb killing, according to sources. Caruana Galizia's family accused the prime minister of protecting his long-time chief of staff, demanding he hand power over to a deputy who didn't have a conflict of interest. Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bomb in October 2017 after exposing high-level corruption in Malta STRINGER, AFP The Times of Malta said Muscat told associates on Friday that he plans to resign imminently, though AFP was not able to immediately confirm the report.
Muscat, who has vowed to resign if links were found between himself and the murder, said Friday he would remain in power, telling reporters he wanted "this case to be closed under my watch". Muscat said Friday he had recused himself from the decision on whether to grant immunity to Fenech. The prime minister later said he had reported Fenech to the police for attempted blackmail, saying the mogul had threatened to implicate him in the affair if he was not given a pardon. "The killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia was a terrorist mafia act carried out by our state," said activist Manuel Delia. Fenech, a tycoon whose business interests span the energy and tourism sectors, was arrested on his yacht last week after an alleged middleman in the murder, taxi driver Melvin Theuma, was offered a pardon to identify those involved. That arrest was followed swiftly by the resignation of Schembri and tourism minister Konrad Mizzi, while economy minister Chris Cardona said he was "suspending himself". The Caruana Galizia family said Schembri and Fenech have the same doctor, who reportedly served as an intermediary, passing secret notes between them. A Maltese court on Friday heard a request by Fenech for the chief investigator in the case, Keith Arnaud, to be removed, amid allegations he also had close ties to Schembri and the prime minister. I'm ready to go all the way for justice to prevail and the truth to come out," Fenech said to journalists after he was released on bail. Fenech's lawyer told the court there was proof of ties between Schembri and Theuma, including a photo of the pair "hugging" in the prime minister's office. VALETTA (Reuters) - A prominent Maltese businessman suspected of involvement in the killing of a journalist went to court on Friday and accused the prime minister's right-hand man of being implicated in the plot. People hold pictures of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia during a demonstration to demand justice over her murder, outside the Office of the Prime Minister at Auberge de Castle, in Valletta, Malta, November 29, 2019. Yorgen Fenech, who is on police bail, also asked the court in Valetta to order the removal of Inspector Keith Arnaud, the chief investigator in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Caruana Galizia, a campaigning journalist who investigated and exposed corruption, was blown up by a car bomb in October 2017. The case has developed into a political crisis for the government of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Lawyers for Fenech alleged that Schembri, who was Joseph Muscat's chief of staff until he resigned on Tuesday, has for the last two years leaked secret details of the probe to Fenech. Camillieri told the court the evidence, which included a photo of Theuma in Schembri's office, proved his involvement, despite the fact that Schembri was released on Thursday evening by police after being held since Tuesday morning. She said Schembri organized a job for Arnaud's wife, an accusation denied by the Maltese government and police. "How can justice be done by Yorgen Fenech when we know that this person had a close relationship with the person investigating," Camillieri said. Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech, who was arrested in connection with an investigation into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, leaves the Courts of Justice in Valletta, Malta, November 29, 2019.