Maltese tycoon charged with complicity to murder journalist

One of Malta's richest men has been charged with complicity to murder in the 2017 car bomb killing of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia - deepening a political crisis that could see Prime Minister Joseph Muscat resign.

Yorgen Fenech pleaded not guilty in a Valletta court on Saturday (November 30) to the charge and others related to the case such as membership of a criminal gang and conspiracy to cause an explosion.

Sources brief on the murder investigation say that police regard Fenech as the mastermind of Caruana Galizia's murder but he has made it clear he intends to implicate key members of Muscat's government.


"I am ready and determined to do everything for the truth to come out."

Immediately after Saturday's hearing, Caruana Galizia's family urged authorities to continue probing who else was involved in the murder, adding that they expect Muscat to leave office.

Official sources say he could resign on Sunday (December 1).

In court filings, Fenech has tried to implicate Muscat's former chief of staff Keith Schembri, who was arrested on Tuesday (November 26) in connection with the murder but released without charge two days later.

Schembri, a close friend of Muscat's, and former Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi both resigned on Tuesday. They have denied any wrongdoing.

Caruana Galizia had reported that Schembri and Mizzi owned secret companies in Panama. Leaked emails indicated that those same companies intended to earn money from an offshore company called 17 Black.

Last November, an investigation by Reuters and the Times of Malta showed that 17 Black was owned by Fenech.

There is no evidence that funds were ever transferred to Mizzi and Schembri, and Mizzi has denied any connection with 17 Black or the murder.

Fenech was, until recently, chief executive of one of Malta's largest companies - the property-to-energy Tumas Group conglomerate.

He was arrested on November 20 on board his luxury yacht as he allegedly attempted to leave the island.