Malta PM, under fire for response to journo's murder, to quit

Malta PM, under fire for response to journo's murder, to quit

A Maltese court is expected to rule Monday on a request by Fenech for the chief investigator in the case, Keith Arnaud, to be removed amid allegations he also had close ties to Schembri and the prime minister.

In scenes reminiscent of a Netflix crime drama, the Maltese armed forces intercepted Yorgen Fenech's boat leaving Malta at dawn.

Protesters including Caruana Galizia's elderly parents on Sunday marched through central Valletta carrying signs reading "Mafia" and "Daphne was right", slamming Muscat as "an obstacle to justice". But still he clung on.

Influential opinion-makers in Malta have turned against Mr Muscat for sticking by Mr Schembri, an old friend since school, and including Mr Schembri in security briefings on the murder investigation even after Mr Fenech was identified both as a suspect in the murder and an associate of Mr Schembri. The question was always when, and how to do it in a way that would preserve his legacy.

There was no immediate reaction from the family, which had called for him to step down.

The former journalist has presided over a period of massive economic growth and social reforms.

"I reiterate my deepest regret that a person, who, with all her positive and negative qualities and contribution toward the democracy of our country, was killed in such a brutal way, " Muscat said. Mr Fenech was identified previous year as being the owner of a mysterious Dubai-registered company, 17 Black.

Mr. Schembri and Mr. Mizzi resigned on Tuesday and Mr. Schembri was interrogated for two days by police before being released without charge. Leaked emails indicated that those same companies meant to earn money from an offshore company called 17 Black.

Later, 17 Black, a company owned by Fenech, was identified in a leaked email as a source of income for the Panama companies set up by Schembri, and one of the recently resigned ministers.

Muscat had called the snap legislative elections called after his close entourage was accused of corruption by journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. This resulted in a decisive victory, and "il-King" tightened his grip on his throne.

Muscat's image started unravelling after Caruana Galizia died in a auto bombing in October 2017 near her home.

Dressed in a charcoal suit and dark glasses, shaven-headed Fenech stood up to hear the charges in a hushed courtroom less than a meter away from the three sons of Caruana Galizia, who were also joined in the courtroom by her husband Peter, her parents, Michael and Rose Vella, and her sisters.

There is no evidence that any money was paid to Mr Mizzi or Mr Schembri.

The prime minister told parliament he was being given immunity in return for information about the killing.

Fast-forward to the dramatic events of the last two weeks, when Mr Fenech's arrest caused shockwaves around the country. Mr. Mizzi on Tuesday denied any business links with Mr. Fenech and any wrongdoing.

The ruling Labor Party parliamentary group on Sunday expressed "unanimous support" for Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, in power since 2013, and "decisions he will be taking".

A photograph of Keith Schembri with alleged go-between in the murder Melvin Theuma was published on Saturday by Malta Today, another local news outlet.

He family is calling for thorough investigations into Mr. Schembri, Mr. Mizzi and Mr. Cardona. Protests intensified and while no-one spoke out against him by name, senior party figures began to say openly how they felt "betrayed" and that the situation was serious.

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