Malta’s attorney general on Wednesday called for a life sentence for businessman Yorgen Fenech for allegedly masterminding the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia which rocked the island four years ago.
Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg laid formal charges against Fenech, who was arrested in November 2019 trying to leave Malta on his yacht, for complicity in the murder and criminal conspiracy.
The bill of indictment, which confirms that Fenech will stand trial, requests life imprisonment for the murder charge and between 20 and 30 years in prison for the criminal conspiracy charge.
Caruana Galizia was one of Malta’s most prominent investigative journalists before she was assassinated in a car bombing close to her home on October 16, 2017.
The murder of a reporter who had exposed cronyism and sleaze within Malta’s political and business elite sparked international outrage and protests that eventually forced prime minister Joseph Muscat to resign.
At the time of her death, she was investigating a highly controversial power station deal, in which Fenech was one of the main shareholders and a director.
It later emerged that Fenech had a secret company in Dubai, 17 Black, which intended to funnel money to two Panama companies belonging to then energy minister Konrad Mizzi and Muscat’s then chief of staff, Keith Schembri. No money was actually transferred.
One of three men accused of planting the car bomb that killed Caruana Galizia pleaded guilty in February.
Vincent Muscat – no relation to the former premier – was jailed for 15 years while the two others, brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, are awaiting trial.
In March, Schembri was charged with money laundering and fraud.
A public inquiry into Caruana Galizia’s murder last month found the Maltese state responsible for creating a climate of impunity in the country that allowed her to be killed, including through the coordination by staff in the prime minister’s own office of online harassment campaigns against her.
Prime Minister Robert Abela apologized to the Caruana Galizia family after the inquiry’s conclusions, and pledged to take all of its recommendations onboard.