Joseph Muscat has faces controversy since the murder of journalist Caruana Galizia in 2017. She had been investigating corruption within Muscat’s government and the suspect accused of her murder claims senior officials were involved.

A coalition of press groups has urged the European Union to ensure criminal proceedings related to the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia are carried out fairly.

Galizia was killed by a car bomb in October 2017. She regularly investigated corruption within the government of Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, including the Panama Papers.

Yorgen Fenech, the main suspect in the killing, accuses former government chief of staff, Keith Schembri, of plotting the bombing. 

Schembri, who stepped down from the role last month because of the scandal, is a close ally of Muscat, who is set to step down himself in the new year.

Given that there is suspicion of high-level collusion between the killers of Galizia and government officials, press freedom groups are calling on the EU to make sure there is no miscarriage of justice.

Muscat denies any prior knowledge about the attack on Galizia.

An open letter signed by groups, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Index on Censorship, and Pen International, among others, said Fenech shared vested interests with the country’s rulers.

The letter was sent to coincide with a meeting of the European Council on December 12.

“Fenech shares vested financial interests with Schembri as well as cabinet minister Konrad Mizzi through 17 Black – a shell company set up by Fenech to provide kickbacks to the two men,” the letter read.

“Further information provided in court also indicates that other staff within the Prime Minister’s office may also be involved, including one of his former close protection officers.

“In addition to these emerging allegations, Prime Minister Muscat has consistently placed himself at the centre of the investigation, acting as the main source of information in relation to its progress including whether pardons will be given to suspects in exchange for evidence.”

While the letter asks the EU to ensure Muscat “guarantees” the inquiry into Galizia’s is not interfered with, but how the body can ensure such guarantees are kept are not made clear. Fenech had previously requested a pardon in exchange for information.

Galizia was killed by a bomb placed underneath her car. The anti-corruption activist and journalist had investigated Maltese politicians implicated in the Panama Papers, and irregularities within Malta’s citizenship-via-investment scheme.

Malta is the smallest EU member in terms of its area and has the lowest population of any member state.

Source: TRT World