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Top businessman to face trial for Malta journalist’s murder

file photo: maltese businessman yorgen fenech, who was arrested in connection with an investigation into the murder of journalist daphne caruana galizia, leaves the courts of justice in valletta
FILE PHOTO: Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech REUTERS/Yara Nardi/File Photo

One of Malta’s wealthiest businessmen, Yorgen Fenech, has been indicted for the murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, prosecutors said in court documents filed on Wednesday.

No date for the trial has yet been set.

Fenech has been under arrest since November 2019, accused of complicity to murder. He has since been undergoing a pre-trial compilation of evidence where he pleaded not guilty.

Caruana Galizia was blown up by a car bomb as she drove out of her residence on Oct. 16, 2017, in a killing that shocked Europe and raised questions about the rule of law in the European Union’s smallest member state.

Fenech headed a business empire with a range of interests including property, imports and a car dealership. He also headed a consortium which was controversially awarded a government contract for the building of a power station.

Caruana Galizia was investigating possible corruption in the contract when she was killed.

Three men accused of actually planting and setting off the bomb were arrested in December 2017. One has since pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain and been jailed for 15 years. The other two are awaiting trial.

The murder plot’s self-confessed middleman, Melvin Theuma, turned state evidence and was granted a pardon. He has pointed to Fenech as having tasked him with organising the assassination.

The prosecutors are pushing for a life sentence for Fenech, court officials said. Fenech was arrested on Nov. 20, 2019, when his yacht was just off Malta in what police say was an attempt to flee the island.

Malta’s then-prime minister, Joseph Muscat, announced his resignation within days of Fenech’s arrest after close links were found between the businessman and senior government officials. Muscat himself has always denied wrongdoing.

An independent inquiry into the murder of Caruana Galizia said last month that the state had to bear responsibility for the killing after creating a “culture of impunity”.

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