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Businessman arrested over murder of Maltese journalist in 2017

Anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb.

A vigil in front of the Maltese embassy on the second anniversary of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder in October this year.
A vigil in front of the Maltese embassy on the second anniversary of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder in October this year.
Image: DPA/PA Images

POLICE IN MALTA have arrested a businessman today in connection with the 2017 murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, a police source has told AFP.

Maltese national Yorgen Fenech was detained on his yacht at dawn as he tried to leave Malta, the source said. Caruana Galizia, a prominent anti-corruption journalist and blogger, was murdered by a car bomb in 2017. 

Yesterday, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he had promised the alleged middleman in the murder case a pardon if he identifies the mastermind of the journalist’s assassination.

Muscat made the surprise offer after authorities arrested someone last Thursday who claimed to know who ordered the car bombing. 

The pardon would cover any criminal cases the suspect may face but they must assist the authorities and his evidence must be corroborated in court, Muscat said.

Maltese police and Interpol, which has been helping with the high-profile case, arrested several people last week as part of an anti-money laundering operation, including someone suspected of involvement in the journalist’s murder.

Caruana Galizia, described by supporters as a “one-woman WikiLeaks,” had highlighted corruption in Malta, including among politicians.

britain-malta-journalist-murdered Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2016, a year before her murder. Source: Jon Borg

“The targeted person, following interrogation, expressed the intention to collaborate with the authorities and through his lawyers requested that first a presidential pardon be given on all the cases he might have had,” Muscat told journalists.

“I have discussed the issue with the authorities including the attorney general and we agreed that no blanket pardon should be given without any certainty regarding the information to be submitted.” 

“I have signed a letter… that states that when the person testifies in court and the information is confirmed and corroborated, I would be recommending that this person is granted a presidential pardon,” Muscat said.

Muscat and his family were among those accused by her investigations and her blog, which often launched highly personal attacks.

Three men are facing trial for allegedly carrying out the killing, but the mastermind has not been identified. In September, Malta appointed a retired judge to head a public inquiry into the journalist’s killing. 

Three suspects were formally charged in July this year over the murder of Caruana Galizia. Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio, as well as Vince Muscat, all in their fifties, were arrested in December 2017. A trial has yet to be held. 

- © AFP 2019

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