Malta: murderous journalist jailed for 15 years | TBEN | 23.02.2021

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Vincent Muscat declared himself guilty on Tuesday at a preliminary hearing in Malta for the murder of anti-corruption journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia. He was quickly jailed for 15 years with a reduced sentence.

Galizia was killed in a car bomb near her hometown of Bidnija in October 2017.

Brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, also accused of procuring, planting and detonating the bomb, remained silent despite Muscat’s appeal, “their faces betraying no expression,” reported the Malta weather (TM) newspaper.

Marc Sant, the lawyer from Muscat, also identified by TM like he-Kohhu, told the court that his client wanted to register an admission. When questioned by Judge Edwina Grima, Muscat replied twice: “Guilty”.

Judge Grima said that by imprisoning Muscat for 15 years she took into account that he had collaborated with the police.

Vince Muscat has been under arrest since December 2017. The other two defendants have kept to not guilty pleas.

Parallel trio arrests

Another newspaper in the EU island nation, MaltaToday, reported that three other men, believed to have supplied the bomb used, were arrested on Tuesday during a police operation.

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Both newspapers reported that Muscat’s guilty plea on Tuesday was the result of an agreement with prosecutors to provide information in return for the reduced sentence.

MaltaToday speculated that Tuesday’s confession “could have a domino effect on other cases”.

Widespread protests, EU control

The 2017 bombing murder sparked sustained public protests across Malta and close scrutiny from the EU.

Another person accused of being an accomplice, businessman Yorgen Fenech, has denied any wrongdoing.

Muscat is not linked to Joseph Muscat, the former Prime Minister of Malta, who was in office when Caruana Galizia was killed.

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Frank journalist

Caruana Galizia faced legal action after she began investigating Panama’s paper leaks in 2013 and eventually uncovered offshore companies allegedly linked to Malta’s political and business elite.

Her sister, Corinne Vella, told TBEN in 2019 that the murder was not just the murder of a person, but “it’s about people’s right to know”.

The Daphne Foundation, established in 2019, cited the family’s lawyer who told the court that she hoped Tuesday’s guilty plea “would start to bring full justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia.”

ipj / aw (TBEN, Reuters)

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