Yorgen Fenech, the Malta casino mogul was charged Friday with involvement in the 2017 murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia — a case which has effectively brought down the Maltese government.
Earlier this month, Fenech, who is one of Malta’s richest men, was arrested in connection with the car-bomb attack which killed Caruana Galizia and gathered international media attention.
As he supposedly tried to escape Malta on his yacht in the early morning of November 20, he was captured by police, who had been observing his movements.
Until he resigned shortly before his arrest, Fenech was CEO of the Tumas Group, one of Malta’s biggest employers. Subsidiary Tumas Gaming owns the Qawra Oracle Casino and the Portomaso Casino, in addition to online gaming operations.
The murder investigation has shocked Europe’s online gambling hub and has reached into the highest ranks of government.
Fenech Not Given Pardon
As informed on Casino.org, Malta’s prime minister Joseph Muscat announced on Saturday, that he would resign on January 18 due to criticism of his handling of the case and the involvement of three members of his inner circle in the incident.
Fenech had asked for a presidential pardon in exchange for disclosing three top government officials, who he claims were involved in the killing – the prime minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, economic minister Chris Cardona and tourism minister Konrad Mizzi.
Earlier in the week all three men resigned but deny offence, and Fenech’s appeal for a pardon was denied.
At a brief prosecution before the magistrate’s court in Valletta on Friday, According to Malta Today, Fenech was charged with “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.”
And also: “Complicity in the wilful homicide of Daphne Caruana Galizia, conspiracy to commit a crime in Malta punishable by imprisonment and complicity in causing an explosion which caused Caruana Galizia’s death.”
Fenech, 38, spoke just to confirm his name and personal details. Malta Today reported that a not-guilty plea was filed by his lawyers.
He faces life in prison if convicted.
Thousands of People Protest
Last year Fenech was identified as the owner of a mysterious Dubai-registered company, 17 Black, which Caruana Galizia was investigating at the time of her death. It has been suspected that 17 Black intended to make a $2 million payment to secret offshore companies owned by Schembri and Mizzi.
Since Fenech’s arrest, thousands have gathered on the streets in protest demanding Muscat’s resignation – including the Caruana Galizia family.
Muscat complied in a live TV speech on Sunday evening.
He said, “It is not right that a person, with her good and bad, who contributed to democracy had to be killed this way… The anger and disappointment are understandable and it is never justified to somehow justify the murder. But neither can disorder and violence be justified under the guise of protest.”
Muscat added the investigation would continue and that “no one is above the law.”