Published: Sun, December 01, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Prosecutors in Malta charge businessman in journalist's killing

Prosecutors in Malta charge businessman in journalist's killing

Official sources said Muscat was expected to make a statement announcing his resignation later on Saturday or on Sunday.

Yorgen Fenech, one of Malta's wealthiest businessman, argued that the way police have been arresting him and releasing him without charge was illegal.

The government had earlier turned down Mr Fenech's request for immunity from prosecution in return for revealing information about the murder plot and about alleged corruption involving Mr Muscat's former chief of staff Keith Schembri and former Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, among others, court filings showed.

Caruana Galizia, a campaigning journalist who investigated and exposed corruption, was blown up by a auto bomb in October 2017. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. "He will make announcements in due course".

Police sources have said they regard Fenech, a hotelier and director of the Maltese power company, as having masterminded the plot.

"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.

Immediately after Saturday's hearing, Caruana Galizia's family urged authorities to continue probing who else was involved in the murder, adding that they expect Muscat to leave office.

The escalating murder investigation has rocked the tiny Mediterranean island and reached the highest rungs of politics, with two ministers and Muscat's chief of staff Keith Schembri stepping down from their posts this week.

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.

Born on January 22, 1974 in the town of Pieta, Muscat studied at a Jesuit school and began his career as a journalist, working for the Labour Party's media arm between 1992 and 1997.

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Schembri has not commented since his resignation or arrest.

Fenech offered to give evidence against government insiders if he were issued a pardon earlier in the week.

Both Mizzi and Schembri, close allies to the prime minister, have denied any wrongdoing.

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

Both Schembri and Mizzi resigned on Tuesday.

Previous year he was identified as the owner of a Dubai-registered company called 17 Black, which is listed in the Panama Papers, a collection of leaked confidential documents showing how wealthy and powerful companies around the world use tax havens to get around the law. She also reported how another company, called 17 Black, was meant to be a vehicle to deposit funds into those companies. The project reported past year that Malta's anti-laundering watchdog had identified Fenech as 17 Black's owner.

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

Investigators subsequently told a court that the bomb was set off from a yacht off Valletta harbor.

Caruana Galizia, 53, was killed by a auto bomb as she drove out of her home in Bidnija, seven miles (11 km) from Valletta, just half an hour after writing a blog describing Schembri as "a crook".

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