The Maltese public prosecutor’s office on Wednesday demanded life imprisonment against businessman Yorgen Fenech, suspected of orchestrating the 2017 murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The prosecution formally presented its indictment against Mr. Fenech, arrested in November 2019 on his yacht off the coast of Malta as he tried to flee, and prosecuted for complicity in murder and criminal conspiracy.

The indictment, which confirms that a trial will be held, requires life imprisonment for the murder charge, and between 20 and 30 years for the criminal conspiracy charge.

Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who denounced in her blog Running Commentary the endemic corruption in this Mediterranean archipelago, a former British colony that entered the European Union in 2004, died at the age of 53 in a car bomb attack on October 16, 2017 .

It was by digging into the Maltese shutter of the resounding Panama Papers that Daphne Caruana Galizia had uncovered the links between Mr. Fenech and senior Maltese politicians.

In particular, she revealed that a Dubai-based company, 17 Black, was to pay money to two Panama-based companies owned by Keith Schembri, then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff, and Konrad Mizzi, Minister of Tourism. The quid pro quo for these alleged bribes, which ultimately went unpaid, is not known.

The Daphne Project journalist consortium, which has resumed its investigations, revealed that 17 Black was owned by Mr Fenech. And the head of government, accused of having interfered in the affair and of having protected his collaborators, his chief of staff as well as the Minister of Tourism, have since resigned.

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Yorgen Fenech is accused of having asked an intermediary, the taxi driver Melvin Theuma, to enlist three killers at the cost of 150,000 euros to kill the journalist.

Mr Fenech himself has implicated several senior government officials, particularly Keith Schembri, calling him the “true sponsor” of the assassination.

One of the men suspected of the murder, Vincent Muscat, pleaded guilty in February and received 15 years in prison, the first sentence in the case that shocked Malta and the rest of the world. Two other men, George and Alfred Degiorgio, accused of placing the bomb on the vehicle, are awaiting trial.

In March, in another proceeding, Keith Schembri was charged with money laundering and fraud.

A public inquiry into the murder the journalist concluded in July that the Maltese state was responsible for creating a climate of impunity in the country which had enabled the murder, including through the coordination of a campaign of harassment in line by the staff of the Prime Minister’s office.

Prime Minister Robert Abela apologized to the Caruana Galizia family after the publication of the findings of this investigation, pledging to implement all of its recommendations.

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