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EU’s Malta Mission Chief Wants Premier Grilled Over Journalist’s Murder

The leader of a European Parliament mission to Malta said embattled Prime Minister Joseph Muscat should be questioned by police as a probe into the 2017 murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia led into his office.
“I don’t think it would be a bad idea, said Dutch lawmaker Sophia in ‘t Veld, noting the Premier had “not been very generous with information” before unrelenting protests made him agree to step down in January.
That came after Yorgen Fenech, a prominent businessman and key suspect stopped on his yacht trying to leave the island, reportedly told a court that at he was kept updated on the police investigation by Keith Schembri, the former chief of staff for Muscat.
Fenech said Schembri gave him a script about what he should tell police when he was questioned and that, “I was to be very careful and not mention Schembri”. Regardless, Fenech had implicated Schembri not too long ago.
“The recordings and the evidence all showed close ties between Schembri and the murder,” he told the court. Fenech was charged with financing and organizing the assassination, accusations he denies, the British newspaper The Telegraph said.
Schembri, following his resignation, was subsequently arrested and questioned by police but released without charge and denied any involvement in the murder. So does Muscat, who went ahead with a visit to Pope Francis who gave him a private audience despite the furor.
Melvin Theuma, a Maltese taxi driver given immunity in return for testifying, told a court at a hearing for three men accused of setting off the bomb that killed Galizia that Fenech was the mastermind and ordered her assassination as she was revealing a growing corruption scandal leading to Muscat’s office.
He said the plan to kill her was devised earlier but delayed when national elections were called a year ahead of schedule after the leak of the so-called Panama papers tied Schembri and another minister to offshore companies as Galizia was digging hard for more details.
Noting the ties to his office, in’t Veld asked: “What does that say about the prime minister?’’ Either he has been incredibly naive while all this was going on under his nose, or he was part of the problem.’’
The European lawmakers ended their mission with a conclusion the government has done next to nothing to change the country’ notorious reputation as a criminal haven and for lax banking regulations scaring off potential investors.
“There is still a culture of impunity for corruption and money laundering,’’ lawmaker Sven Giegold said in a statement. Giegold described Malta’s sale of passports to non-EU citizens with ready cash as “a gateway to corruption.”

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