Casino Mogul Charged with the Murder of Journalist, Government Officials Involved
December 3rd, 2019 3.00pm
A murder investigation has shaken Malta to its core after it discovered the involvement of some pretty important names, including some linked to the country’s government.
One of the richest men in Malta Yorgen Fenech was charged last week with complicity in the murder of the renowned journalist. Caruana Galizia was an anti-corruption journalist, who died in a car bomb attack near her home, back in 2017.
A couple of months after her death, a consortium of international journalists published a collaboration titled The Daphne Project, with an intention to complete her work.
Shaking the Whole Country
Fenech was arrested in November after the investigation linked him to the attack that killed Caruana Galizia. The first arrests related to this case took place in December 2017, when 3 men were taken into custody. If found guilty, Fenech could be sentenced to life in prison.
According to available information, the casino mogul had been under police surveillance for some time, and the authorities decided to arrest him on November 20, after he allegedly attempted to escape from the country on his yacht.
Fenech recently resigned as Chief Executive Officer of the Tumas Group, the company that owns Qawra Oracle Casino and the Portomaso Casino, as well as several online gaming operations. Tumas Group is also one of the biggest employers in the country, with 5 active companies across 5 active industries.
The results of the investigation have sent shock ways through the entire online gambling industry, reaching the highest levels of the government.
Only a day after the charges against Fenech were made, the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced his resignation. Following public disapproval of the way, he handled this sensitive case. According to the official statement made by the Prime Minister, he is set to resign on January 18, 2020.
Presidential Pardon Denied
Fenech even offered to give more information on three government officials who were allegedly involved in the Caruana Galizia’s murder. He implicated Keith Schembri, Muscat’s chief of staff, as well as two government ministers, Konrad Mizzi and Chris Cardona. In return, Fenech requested a presidential pardon.
In the meantime, all three of them denied any involvement in the murder but resigned from their respective positions. Fenech’s request for a pardon was rejected.
The local media reported Fenech had appeared before the magistrate’s court in the nation’s capital. According to the information provided by Malta Today, Fenech was accused of “promoting, organizing or financing a group with the intention of carrying out a criminal offence, actively participating in this criminal organization by giving information, material means, or the recruitment of new members whilst aware of the purpose of this organization.”
He was also charged with complicity in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, as well as complicity in the car bomb explosion which killed the renowned journalist.
The 38-year-old businessman didn’t speak much, stating only his name and personal information. His team of lawyers filed a “not guilty” plea.
Last year, an inquiry discovered that Fenech was behind a company from the United Arab Emirates, which was under Caruana Galizia’s investigation. Her report revealed 17 Black was about to make payments worth a couple of millions of pounds to offshore companies owned by the prime minister’s former chief of staff and the former tourism minister.
Following Fenech’s arrest, protests in Valletta have been calling for the prime minister’s resignation. Muscat’s reply was given in a live TV appearance on Sunday when he finally resigned.
Muscat said the understood the anger and disappointment but pointed out violence and disorder couldn’t be justified under the pretence of protests.
According to Muscat, the investigation into Caruana Galizia’s murder will continue.
Yorgen Fenech was charged last week with complicity in the murder of the renowned journalist.