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Malta Businessman Arrested, Probed in Murder of Journalist Galizia

A prominent businessman on Malta who owned a company that investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia said was linked to top politicians was arrested on his yacht while leaving the island.
Yorgen Fenech was being held as a “person of interest” in the case that shocked the European Union after her killing in October, 2017 and demands to find the mastermind has been an unrelenting cause of her family and supporters.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat – whose Chief of Staff Keith Schembri and former energy minister Konrad Mizzi, now Tourism Minister -were reportedly due to receive up to $2 million in payments within a year from Fenech’s company, 17 Black – did not link the arrest to Galizia’s murder.
But it came after he said he would offer a pardon to a money laundering suspect who said he had information that could identity who ordered the killing – three men were arrested for the murder – if it led authorities to find out who directed it.
Fenech is a well-known hotelier and Director of the Maltese power company but stepped down a week before being apprehended, having turned control over to his brother, a former boxer who had written about his cocaine addiction.
Fenech’s name was on leaked documents as a source of income for companies named in the Panama papers. Caruana Galizia alleged on her blog that a company called 17 Black Ltd. was connected to Maltese politicians, but provided no specific evidence.
Her work was taken over by other investigative reporters under the Daphne Project after her murder who reported in April 2018 that Malta’s anti-money laundering watchdog had identified Fenech as the owner of 17 Black.
The slain journalist’s three sons tweeted that there was a direct connection between the arrest and their mother’s murder. They added: “We now expect the authorities to continue investigating the links our mother uncovered between Fenech and the prime minister’s chief of staff and minister Konrad Mizzi.”
Schembri and Mizzi had both told Reuters in October 2018 they had no knowledge of any connection between 17 Black and Fenech, or of any plan to receive payments connected to Fenech or the energy project.
Schembri said he had not heard that Fenech owned 17 Black. He said he was not involved in the power station project and, asked by Reuters if he had intended to profit from the project, said: “The answer is a categorical ‘No’.”
Mizzi had issued a statement through a spokesman in October 2018 saying he “reiterates that there is no connection, direct or otherwise, between him, the company or trust he held, and any entity called 17 Black. Furthermore, he has no information relating to 17 Black.”
Fenech said last year that he and his companies “never had (or intended to have) any untoward business relation” with any politicians or politically affiliated individuals or entities.
Sven Giegold, a Member of the European Parliament from Germany who helped produce a parliamentary report into Caruana Galizia’s death, welcomed the progress after what he described as “two years of inaction,” and said Schembri and Mizzi “both must now step down.”
But Muscat stood by them although when news broke of Fenech being arrested there was a demonstration with protesters surrounding minister’s cars, crying out “Corrupt!”

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