Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Justice: Journalist killed in Malta in 2017: defendant pleads guilty


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Vincent Muscat, one of the three men accused of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese anti-corruption journalist, admitted his guilt.

AFP

One of the three men accused of the October 2017 murder of Maltese anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia pleaded guilty on Tuesday for the first time since the start of preliminary hearings.

“Vincent Muscat, what do you plead with regard to the charges?” asked the clerk of the Valletta court. “Guilty,” replied the accused. On October 16, 2017, journalist blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was investigating corruption at the highest level in Malta, was killed by a bomb placed in her car.

These are serious accusations

Three men with criminal records already loaded – the brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio as well as Vincent Muscat – are indicted the next day, suspected of participating in a criminal organization and of having manufactured the bomb.

They had pleaded not guilty since then, until Tuesday’s turnaround when Mr. Muscat decided to plead guilty. “These are serious charges, murder, conspiracy, he risks life imprisonment,” Judge Edwina Grima told Marc Sant, Mr. Muscat’s lawyer, but the latter repeated that he was pleading guilty.

Vincent Muscat and the Degiorgio brothers are suspected of having manufactured, placed and detonated the bomb that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia.

A fourth man linked to the case, Yorgen Fenech, a businessman who owns the company 17 Black, was arrested in 2019 on his yacht off the coast of Malta, as he tried to flee.

Cascading resignations

He is officially considered to have information about the case. Some media and the journalist’s family present him as a possible sponsor of the murder but hearings into the charges against him have not yet started. The arrest of Yorgen Fenech, on the other hand, had led to cascading resignations at the highest political level.

The chief of staff of the Prime Minister at the time, Joseph Muscat (unrelated to Vincent Muscat), resigned in November 2019 followed by the Minister of Tourism, while the Minister of the Economy “puts himself in reserve” during the ‘investigation.

The Prime Minister then announces on December 1 that he will also resign, and his departure will become effective in January 2020.

(AFP)





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