Published: Sat, November 30, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Family of slain journalist presses Malta's PM to resign

Family of slain journalist presses Malta's PM to resign

Muscat's office denied Maltese media reports claiming that the prime minister's Cabinet had lost faith in him, describing them "as total invention".

An intensifying probe into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed by a vehicle bomb in October 2017, has destabilized his government, though the prime minister has rebutted repeated calls for his resignation.

Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said his government rejected a request by a prominent businessman for immunity from prosecution in connection with the 2017 killing of investigative reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia.

His chief aide, Keith Schembri, quit amid reports he was being questioned by police, and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi also resigned.

Earlier on Friday, Muscat's cabinet turned down a request to pardon a businessman, Yorgen Fenech, over the murder in return for testimony that Fenech's lawyers said would implicate senior government figures including Schembri.

Roberta Metsola, a Maltese member of the European parliament, said in a tweet: "If only #DaphneCaruanaGalizia was alive to see that even after they assassinated her, she brought the criminals down in disgrace".

Mizzi said that he was resigning "in light of the political situation in the country", and said that he had "no connection and nothing to answer about in relation to the case".

The investigation has led to renewed calls by opposition politicians for Muscat to resign.

Authorities have questioned Muscat's right-hand man Keith Schembri this week in their investigation into the murder of Caruana Galizia, who was blown up by a vehicle bomb in 2017.

The release came at the same time as Fenech, still under arrest and under a heavy police escort, went to court to file a constitutional application seeking a presidential pardon.

Fenech was arrested a day after Muscat revealed that an unidentified man offered to provide details about the murder if he was given immunity of all crimes he committed.

Fenech was released Tuesday on police bail while seeking to verify if the new information is true.

A person holds a candle in front of a picture of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta, Malta, October 16, 2019.

Opposition MPs heckled the prime minister with shouts of "mafia" when he walked into parliament.

Last week, police took into custody a Maltese hotelier as he tried to flee Malta on his yacht.

Mr Muscat is under increasing pressure to resign over the case. Chris Cardona and Konrad Mizzi had resigned from their Cabinet positions, in connection with the vehicle bomb probe.

Schembri, who resigned his post when questioned earlier in the week, has denied any wrongdoing related to the death of Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed as the auto she was driving near her home blew up. All three deny wrongdoing.

Eight months before she was slain, Caruana Galizia alleged in her blog that a company called 17 Black Ltd., listed in the Panama Papers, was connected to Maltese politicians. The company belonged to Mr Fenech.

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