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One of the three men accused of the October 2017 murder of Maltese anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia pleaded guilty on Tuesday for the first time since the start of preliminary hearings. He was then sentenced to 15 years in prison by the Valletta court.
One of the three men accused of the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia pleaded guilty on Tuesday 23 February and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. In announcing the verdict, the court said it had taken into account the fact that Vincent Muscat had collaborated with the police and that the prosecution had also requested this sentence.
Because a few hours earlier, the suspect had surprised the court: “Vincent Muscat, what are you pleading with regard to the charges?” asked the clerk of the Valletta court. “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 participating in a criminal organization and of having manufactured the bomb. They had pleaded not guilty from that date, until Tuesday’s turnaround.
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“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.
Vincent Muscat and the Degiorgio brothers are suspected of having made, placed and detonated the bomb that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia. 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 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. Hearings into the charges against him have yet to begin.
Cascading resignations at the top of the state
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 announced on December 1, 2019 that he too would resign, and his departure became effective in January 2020.