In Brief

Daphne Caruana Galizia murder: businessman arrested

Yorgen Fenech detained after Malta’s PM offers pardon to alleged middleman in return for identity of assassin

A Maltese businessman has been arrested in connection with the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia two years ago.

Yorgen Fenech was detained by armed officers after his yacht was intercepted trying to flee the island. The Times of Malta says he was believed to be en route to Italy, although that was not believed to be his final destination.

The dramatic swoop by Maltese armed forces came a day after the country’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat promised an alleged middleman in Caruana Galizi’s murder a pardon in return for identifying the mastermind behind the assassination.

Three men - brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio and their friend Vincent Muscat (unrelated to the prime minister) - have been charged with triggering the car bomb that killed the renowned investigative journalist near her home in October 2017. All three pleaded not guilty in pre-trial proceedings.

Despite the arrests “Malta's handling of the case has drawn international criticism”, amid growing clamour to find out who ordered the killing and why, says the BBC.

In September, the government made a surprise u-turn and appointed a retired judge to head a public inquiry into the killing but “concerns about the time it has taken to bring her killers to book have led to questions about the rule of law in Europe’s smallest member state”, says The Guardian.

Over the course of a 30-year career, Caruana Galizia earned a reputation as a “one-woman WikiLeaks” for her work uncovering corruption in Malta.

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Al Jazeera says “the prime minister and his family were among those accused by Caruana Galizia’s investigations and her blog, which often launched highly personal attacks”.

Muscat has faced opposition calls to resign over his handling of the case and alleged links between members of his administration and Fenech.

A subsequent investigation by the Daphne Project, a collective of journalists set up to continue Caruana Galizia’s reporting and investigate her death, reported last year that Fenech was the owner of a shell company called 17 Black.

Before she died, Caruana Galizia reported that the company was due to make substantial payments into two other shell companies, registered in Panama, belonging to two members of Malta’s ruling Labour administration.

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