For the first time since the start of the trial, one of the three men accused the murder of Maltese anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, found dead in October 2017, pleaded guilty on Tuesday.
“Vincent Muscat, what do you plead with regard to the charges? “Asked the clerk of the court of Valletta. “Guilty,” replied the accused.
On October 16, 2017, journalist blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was investigating corruption at the highest level in Malta, was killed by a bomb placed in her car. Three men with criminal records already loaded– the brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio as well as Vincent Muscat – are indicted the next day, suspected of participation in a criminal organization and of having manufactured the bomb.
They had pleaded not guilty since then, until Tuesday’s turnaround when Vincent Muscat decided to plead guilty. “These are serious charges, murder, conspiracy, he risks life imprisonment,” Judge Edwina Grima told Marc Sant, Vincent Muscat’s lawyer, but the latter repeated that he was pleading guilty.
A fourth man linked to the case, Yorgen Fenech, a businessman who owns the company 17 Black, was arrested in 2019 on his yacht off the coast of Malta, as he tried to flee. He is officially considered to have information about the case. Some media and the journalist’s family present him as a possible sponsor of the murder but hearings into the charges against him have not yet started.
The arrest of Yorgen Fenech, on the other hand, had led to cascading resignations at the highest political level. The chief of staff of the Prime Minister at the time, Joseph Muscat (unrelated to Vincent Muscat), resigned in November 2019 followed by the Minister of Tourism, while the Minister of the Economy “puts himself in reserve” during the ‘investigation. The Prime Minister then announces on December 1 that he will also resign, and his departure will become effective in January 2020.