ROME – The confession of a partially blind assassin in the heinous murder of Maltese journalist Mukraker Daphne Caruana Galicia has launched a number of new arrests in the complex case.
On Tuesday, a Maltese judge accepted the surprising guilty plea of 57-year-old Vincent Muscat, who initially pleaded not guilty, along with brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, to the car bomb that killed Galicia on a country road near her home in Malta in October 2017 The brothers, who were also in the courtroom, continue to plead not guilty in the case. Muscat̵
Muscat, who is blind in one eye after being shot at close range in April 2014 in an attempted murder with vendetta, was sentenced on Tuesday to 15 years in prison, from which he has already served three years. He pleaded guilty to all six charges: premeditated murder of Daphne Caruana Galicia, causing an explosion that resulted in the death of a person, illegal possession of explosives, conspiracy to commit a crime, promotion of a group intending to commit a crime and participation in such a group. . He was awarded a separate presidential pardon in the 2015 murder of lawyer Carmel Chirkop, in which he provided crucial information after admitting his peripheral involvement in the crime. This apology does not affect the sentence in Galicia.
Just minutes after Muscat’s change of heart was read in court by his lawyer, police stormed the secret hiding place of brothers Adrian and Robert Agius and accomplice Jamie Vella, arresting the trio for allegedly supplying the bomb that killed Galicia. Police say new arrests are expected. On Wednesday, local media in Malta reported that three more arrests were imminent, including those related to organized crime in Italy and Malta.
Galicia’s investigative goals, revealed in her blog Running Commentary, which still receives thousands of visits a day, according to her sons, include then-Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (unrelated to Vincent). His wife was linked to the corrupt Pilacy Bank, revealed in the Panama Papers. Following her assassination, journalists cooperating in Galicia’s initial investigations into the Daphne project revealed additional links between the Maltese prime minister’s wife and the bank. Muscat resigned under pressure in 2019 due to the alleged connections of his associates with the murder.
An aide to the former prime minister, energy tycoon Jorgen Fenek, who secretly owned 17 Black, a company that was a frequent target of Galician journalistic investigations, was arrested on his yacht en route to Italy in December 2019. He is accused of leading murder and denies involvement. Preliminary hearings in his case are expected to resume on March 18.
Fenek’s arrest came after taxi driver Melvin Teuma admitted to being a mediator between Fenek and those accused of the murder. The Vincent Muscat agreement reportedly includes testimony that confirms the taxi driver’s claims. Fenek has secured a presidential pardon and full protection in exchange for his testimony. The Daphne Project Reporting Consortium has learned that Galizia has received cash from thousands of emails and documents related to a company owned by Fenech. Investigators believe she may have been killed before she could expose the contents of the documents.
Galicia’s family, who believe she was killed for being too close to the crimes of Malta’s political elite, issued a cautious statement following Muscat’s request. “This development will pave the way for full justice for Daphne Caruana Galicia,” they said, adding that her murder “destroyed her right to life and abolished her right to enjoy her family and grandchildren born after her murder.”
The Galicia family’s lawyer read the statement in court. “The ominous murder of Daphne Caruana Galicia was premeditated and could have been avoided. The victim paid with her life, and her family pays for the loss of the loved one, “he said. “I said all this today because if Daphne’s family had to respond to the agreement based on their emotions, their answer would be obvious.”
Maltese blogger Manuel Delia, who has written a book on the case, warns that Vincent Muscat’s confession does not solve the case. “Muscat is at the bottom of this mafia’s brutal pecking order. He’s not even a man with buttons. He is a gopher who has seen things and remembered some of them, and at a time when he was facing a possible life sentence, he used what he saw and remembered to negotiate a reduced sentence for himself, “he said. he on Tuesday. “Listening to his confession, his confession of guilt is a small step in the sad, long and hitherto fruitless search for justice.”