More than three years after a car bomb killed Malta’s most famous journalists and sparked shock waves across Europe, the Mediterranean island state’s police chief has said that anyone he believes was involved in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia is now have been arrested.
However, an announcement by the Maltese Police Commissioner to effectively close the case late Wednesday left the motive for the murder unclear. It also remained open whether senior government officials, including the former prime minister, intervened in the case to protect a politically connected millionaire who was implicated in the crime.
A wealthy local businessman, Yorgen Fenech, was arrested in November 2019 while trying to escape Malta aboard his yacht. He was charged with paying three contract killers and orchestrating the journalist’s murder. He pleaded not guilty of complicity in the murder. A trial is still pending.
Unlike many other celebrities in Malta, Mr. Fenech had rarely been a target of Ms. Caruana Galizia’s investigative coverage and had no apparent reason to want her dead. Most of her journalistic work appeared on a hugely popular blog, Running Commentary, a mix of serious reporting and shoddy personal attacks.
While the journalist mentioned Mr Fenech only once on her blog, she regularly criticized an electricity generator, Electrogas, in which the businessman’s family conglomerate played a key role. This has led to speculation that her murder may be linked to the electricity company, which has received a $ 400 million loan from the Maltese government and has a strangely expensive gas supply deal with Azerbaijan, a partner in the company.
Malta’s police commissioner Angelo Gafa ‘reported at a press conference in Malta on Wednesday evening that investigators had found no evidence of politicians being involved in the murder. However, he did not address the question of their possible involvement in a cover-up following the murder.
Regarding the murder itself, he said: “With the evidence we have, we can say that every person involved, mastermind or accomplice, has been arrested or charged.”
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat resigned in late 2019 and was repeatedly flooded with street protests and allegations that he had allowed Malta, the smallest member of the European Union, to become a “mafia state”. But Mr Muscat has repeatedly denied trying to obstruct the murder investigation despite evidence that his chief of staff briefed the suspected mastermind, Mr Fenech, of the details of the police’s work and advised him to flee. The former chief of staff has turned down an attempt to protect the prime suspect, an old friend.
Current Prime Minister Robert Abela said at a press conference Thursday that the investigation into the murder of Ms. Caruana Galizia was continuing despite all of the main suspects being arrested. He said the arrests showed that Malta’s law enforcement system was working well.
Earlier this week, police arrested three professional criminals who were suspected of being involved in the murder, including delivering explosives. The journalist was killed by a car bomb that exploded while driving away from her family home on a remote country road. Vince Muscat, one of three men accused of planting or detonating the bomb, pleaded guilty to murder this week and returned to his earlier confession of innocence. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Chris Peregin, the founder and director of Lovin ‘Malta, an online news outlet that has been closely following the case, said the killers hired to kill Ms. Caruana Galizia had apparently all been identified and arrested. going at full speed ”because“ there are still so many questions about the possible motif. “