Vince Muscat: Delay in pardon ‘intentional’ to grant immunity to specific individuals

Vince Muscat, also known as il-Koħħu, one of the three men charged with the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, has accused the government of intentionally delaying his request for a presidential pardon, adding that the lag is purposely done to grant “immunity” to specific individuals.

On Friday, Muscat filed a judicial protest in the civil courts against Prime Minister Robert Abela about the delay from the President’s Office in being given an answer about his request for a presidential pardon in exchange for information on a number of crimes in Malta which took place over the past few years as well as further information on the Caruana Galizia case.

He said he had requested the pardon on 30 November 2019 and he has still not received a reply. He sent another a follow up request on 17 December, to which the President’s secretary replied saying the request was forwarded to the Justice Minister for his consideration and in order for him to advise the President. Nothing was received after that.

His information on the latter, which has been told to inspectors of the case Keith Arnaud and Kurt Zahra, touches upon information on “the identification of a number of persons involved in the assassination and other crimes who have not yet been mentioned,” his lawyer Marc Sant wrote in the judicial protest on behalf of Muscat who is in custody.

Going into detail about his wait for a response about his pardon, Muscat said that during the last in a series of sessions with the police on 18 February, Arnaud had said they will go through the recordings and notes again to see if they have further questioning and that there was to be a final meeting.

Since that day, the investigators have found “every possible excuse… so that the report required from them (for the pardon) will not be finished”.

The excuses include having other work, changing work hours because of the COVID-19 pandemic,  that they are still to verify Muscat’s information, and that they cannot send for Muscat because of the pandemic, he said.

This is despite the information he possesses “providing insight” on cases currently ongoing in court. This “clearly shows they are buying time” as well as are acting in the interest of obscured third parties, the judicial protest read.

“Either they are incompetent, which doesn’t seem likely as they seem to know their work, or they are not being left to work (freely) because they are threatened or scared or are being kept back from finding out the whole truth as it might impede on the stability of today’s governing administration and as a consequence of their lack of action, they would be protecting some individual/s,” he said.

The judicial protest went on to compare the “big difference” between Muscat’s request for a presidential pardon and that of self-confessed middleman Melvin Theuma, who was granted a presidential pardon “in a matter of days” after his arrest in November 2019.

Theuma was found with severe stab wounds to his throat, abdomen and wrists two weeks ago in a context that still requires explanation by the police.

“The difference in attitude incites serious and legitimate doubts on the investigators and their work and whether they are being kept back by these parties from exercising their duties. One must ask how Theuma’s pardon was really proposed and granted with legitimate intentions and according to law and so third parties involved are kept hidden from the search of truth and justice,” the justicial protest stated.

Muscat goes on to ask whether everything was prepared before the arrest of Theuma and whether there are ulterior motives or whether there was pressure.

He said the delay in advice to President Vella from the Justice Ministry and the Police Inspectors to pardon Muscat is “only due to obscured interests in protecting certain individuals who have not yet been mentioned” in the case of Caruana Galizia and in the investigation of other alleged crimes.

“It is therefore clear that this action is intended to conceal certain facts and the involvement of other persons with the intention of continuing to grant full immunity, to these individuals who have not yet been mentioned and who are and / or were in the circle of power in this country, from taking full responsibility for their deplorable actions when they were in a position of power where they were obliged to stop the alleged crimes and murder,” Muscat said.

The judicial protest is also filed against Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa, Attorney General Peter Grech, State Advocate Victoria Buttigieg, and Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis.

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