Malta businessman charged in journalist’s car bomb killing

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 this charge and to other charges related to the case.

The probe into the murder of Caruana Galizia, a campaigning journalist who investigated and exposed corruption in Malta, 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 spokesperson for the prime minister said that Muscat “has pledged various times he wants to see this case through. He will make announcements in due course.”

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addresses a news conference in Valletta on Friday. (Yara Nardi/Reuters)

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 on Oct. 16, 2017.

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

Police sources have said they regard Fenech as having masterminded the plot.

Fenech had not commented publicly on this accusation. He said only when he spoke to journalists on Friday that the “truth will come out.”

People hold pictures of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia as they participate in a demonstration to demand justice over her murder outside the office of the prime minister at Auberge de Castille in Valletta on Friday. (Yara Nardi/Reuters)

Fenech was arrested on Nov. 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.

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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