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Caruana Galizia family insists Prime Minister step back from investigation

The family of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is insisting that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat distance himself from the investigation into her death in order to ensure its impartiality.

In a statement, the family referred to the recent arrest of Yorgen Fenech, owner of Dubai-based company 17 Black, an entity set up to pay kickbacks to the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi.

“We remind Prime Minister Joseph Muscat that the assassination investigation implicates his own office and his closest officials,” they said. “As investigators now turn to Fenech’s corrupt links with the Maltese Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri and Cabinet minister Konrad Mizzi, we are dismayed to see the Prime Minister putting himself at the centre of the investigation.”

Fenech was intercepted by the Armed Forces while attempting to leave Malta on his yacht on Wednesday, and escorted back to the island. His arrest came less than 24 hours after the Prime Minister announced that he promised to grant a conditional presidential pardon to a person suspected of acting as a middleman in Caruana Galizia’s murder.

The Caruana Galizia family pointed out that his arrest was “an important and overdue development” in the investigation, but added, “The Prime Minister has no place anywhere near the investigation and we trust that he will now distance himself from it.”

The family stated that they were prepared to use all legal means at their disposal to ensure that the investigation was independent and impartial, and that it runs its full course.

“Too many people have worked too hard for too long for justice,” they said. “The Prime Minister should not derail, in one final attempt, full justice for our wife and mother.”

Fenech’s arrest led to public calls for the Prime Minister’s resignation by the family, by PN MEP David Casa, and by former Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil. A protest was also organised by Repubblika and Occupy Justice demanding that Muscat step down.

Their demand was echoed by Special Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Pieter Omtzigt who, in a series of tweets, said the Prime Minister should be distancing himself from the investigation.

Omtzigt expressed his concern at what was happening in Malta and questioned who was truly running the investigation.

“Who determines whether Theuma’s evidence justifies a pardon: the PM?” he said in a tweet. “Why was Theuma’s evidence worth a pardon one day, only for the PM then to say it was not needed for Fenech’s arrest?”

Muscat’s potential influence on the justice system was “too great”, he said, while also pointing out the connections between the Electrogas deal and Mizzi and Schembri.

 

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