Malta businessman charged over journalist's murder, pleads not guilty



VALLETTA, Herman Grech (dpa)- A Maltese businessman pleaded not guilty to the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on Saturday night in a case that has rocked the Mediterranean island.
Yorgen Fenech, 37, was escorted to court and charged with complicity in the murder of the journalist, participating in a criminal organization and complicity in causing an explosion.




Caruana Galizia, 53, was killed in a car bombing in October 2017. The three men who are believed to have detonated the bomb are awaiting trial.
The victim's family sat in court as they heard lead investigator Keith Arnaud saying Fenech had been monitored during the investigation and stopped when authorities saw him trying to leave Malta on his yacht on November 20.
He was arrested and rearrested several times because of the complexity of the investigation, Arnaud said. 
Fenech sought a pardon in return for providing information on other people he claims were involved in the murder but his request was rejected.
He had been named as the owner of a secret offshore company called 17 Black, which was intended to funnel money into the accounts of the Maltese prime minister's chief of staff, Keith Schembri, and minister Konrad Mizzi. Both resigned last Tuesday.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is himself expected to announce his resignation shortly, amid widespread protests in Malta.
Muscat, 45, was elected in 2013 and has since won successive general elections with a landslide. He has been credited with overseeing record economic success and low unemployment during his tenure, but blamed for turning a blind eye to corruption.
Malta, an EU member state, is expected to have a new prime minister by January 18, according to sources within the ruling Labour Party.
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Saturday, November 30th 2019
Herman Grech (dpa)
           


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