Maltese gov’t rejects pardon for suspect in journalist’s murder

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VALLETTA, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) — The Maltese government turned down a businessman’s request for immunity in exchange for information on who murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced on Friday.

The decision was made by the cabinet of ministers following a six-hour meeting, in which they heard the negative recommendation of the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General.

Muscat did not attend the meeting since it involved his former chief of staff Keith Schembri.

“(Businessman) Yorgen Fenech asked for a pardon for the second time after making allegations about Keith Schembri so I did not want to shoulder the responsibility myself as I did in the first so I called in the cabinet to decide,” he said.

“As we always do, we asked for a recommendation and this was that it should not be granted. I abstained from this part of the meeting and the decision accepting the negative recommendation was unanimous,” he told a new conference.

“I reiterate that the government is committed to investigate all allegations of illegalities. I want this case to be closed under my watch. There were major breakthroughs in the investigation and my job is to see this investigation concluded,” he said.

He added that Schembri was not involved in the murder of Galizia.

Fenech, a key player in Malta’s energy sector, reportedly has been described as a “person of interest” in the murder of Maltese investigative journalist Galizia. She was reportedly killed by a car bomb in Malta on Oct. 16, 2017.

Schembri had been mentioned by Fenech as having been the mastermind of the murder.

Schembri was released from police custody with the police saying Thursday evening that following intensive investigations in connection with Galizia’s murder, the police did not feel it necessary to keep Schembri under arrest any longer.

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