France Launches Probe into Murder of Maltese Journalist
The French Financial Prosecution Office said on Wednesday it will try to determine whether the money the suspected mastermind of the murder of a Maltese journalist has allegedly used to bribe Maltese officials has anything to do with his assets in France.
The main suspect of the 2017 murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech, owns a hotel and a horse stable in France and prosecutors now want to know whether he has used those to bribe two Maltese top officials, France 24 reported.
“The investigation should have been launched by the Maltese financial authorities,” Caruana Galizia’s sister, Corinne Vella told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Fenech is a Maltese casino mogul, the owner of a company called 17 Black and co-owner of Electrogas, the firm that won a large energy concession from the Maltese Government.
The Maltese Navy prevented him last November from leaving Malta on his yacht and arrested him a day after an alleged middleman, Melvin Theuma, was offered a pardon in exchange for identifying the mastermind behind Caruana Galizia’s assasination.
He was charged him with murder and participation in a criminal organization but pleaded not guilty.
A wave of resignations of some of the country’s most senior officials followed Fenech’s arrest, including Keith Schembri, Chief of Staff of the Maltese former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Economy Minister Chris Cardona and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi.
Schembri and Mizzi have been linked to Fenech and his 17 Black, which, according to the Panama Papers leak, had been listed as a target client of their Panama offshore companies.
Cardona had sued Caruana Galizia over a report that claimed he had been seen at a brothel in Germany during a business trip in January 2017.
Prime Minister Muscat resigned beginning of this year after massive demonstrations erupted in Valletta, with protesters demanding justice for the murdered journalist.
Caruana Galizia, who also cooperated with the OCCRP, was killed in a car bomb near her home in October 2017. She had been investigating political elites and their involvement in corruption.