Malta government refuses pardon to man accused of journalist’s murder

·1-min read
Demonstration to demand justice over the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia outside the Office of the Prime minister at Auberge de Castle, in Valletta

VALLETTA (Reuters) - Malta's government said on Wednesday it had turned down a request for a pardon by one of the men accused of the 2017 car bomb murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Vincent Muscat was arrested in December 2017 along with brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio, and accused of planting and setting off the bomb which killed the anti-corruption campaigner. The three are still awaiting trial.

Muscat has asked for a pardon on several occasions in return for providing evidence in the case and in other major crimes.

The government finally announced its decision on Wednesday, saying it had rejected the request on the advice of the attorney general and the police commissioner.

Late in 2019, the government granted a pardon to the self-confessed middleman in the murder plot, Melvin Theuma. The suspected murder mastermind, businessman Yorgen Fenech, was arrested shortly afterwards and is also awaiting trial.

Fenech has denied the charge.

In April 2018, Muscat gave police an account on how the Caruana Galizia murder was planned. His wife Pauline subsequently told Reuters she was upset he had not been given a pardon in return.

"It’s a complete injustice that Theuma should give evidence against Vince when Vince was the one that led police to him and helped solve this case. He is the one who should be pardoned, not Melvin," she said.

Muscat told police that the killers were paid 150,000 euros ($182,310) to murder Caruana Galizia. They used a bomb bought from Maltese gangsters and supplied by the Italian mafia, he said.

($1 = 0.82 euros)

(Reporting by Christopher Scicluna; Editing by Crispian Balmer and Angus MacSwan)