Maltese prosecutors today indicted the man accused of ordering the 2017 murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in another important milestone in the fight against impunity and for full justice for her assassination.
On August 18, prosecutors filed the bill of indictment in court seeking life imprisonment for businessman Yorgen Fenech on charges of complicity in murder and criminal association, paving the way for him to stand trial by jury over the 2017 killing.
Prosecutors allege that in April that year, Fenech contacted a middleman about finding someone who could carry out the murder, provided €150,000 in cash to pay the alleged hitmen and ultimately gave the green light for the fatal car bomb to be detonated.
“Today’s indictment of the man alleged to have effectively orchestrated and funded the assassination is a milestone in the fight against impunity and another important step down the road to full justice for Daphne’s murder”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “Though a long and at times painful process for her family, we are glad to see the compilation of evidence result in a bill of indictment by prosecutors.
“The role of judging responsibility for this horrific crime will now lie with a Maltese jury. Until then, we continue to demand justice for Daphne’s murder and consequences for the corruption she exposed. She deserves the truth; her family deserve the truth. This case has global significance: impunity for those responsible cannot be allowed to continue.”
The indictment claims that Fenech ordered and paid for the 2017 killing of Malta’s best-known investigative journalist.
This move is a significant step in the fight to prevent impunity for Caruana Galizia’s murder.https://t.co/00nyww9ImD
— IPI – The Global Network for Press Freedom (@globalfreemedia) August 18, 2021
Long fight for justice
The long-sought indictment comes 46 months after the assassination in October 2017 and three weeks after an independent public inquiry concluded that the state must bear shared responsibility in fomenting a culture of impunity in which the murder could be carried out.
The business mogul has been in preventive custody since November 2019 after being arrested while allegedly trying to flee Malta aboard his yacht. Considerable evidence against him has since been compiled during a lengthy legal process.
IPI understands it is expected to take around one year for the trial to begin.
The alleged middleman, taxi driver Vincent Muscat, has already been sentenced to 15 years behind bars after changing his plea to guilty in February. The two alleged hitmen, brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, are set to face trial over executing the contract killing. Both maintain their innocence.
The bill of indictment, a formal criminal accusation that a person has committed a crime, came the same day as Fenech’s legal team again requested bail in court. The prosecution contested by presenting WhatsApp messages sent by the accused which they allege demonstrate his intention to flee Malta after the assassination, which Fenech denies. It was also alleged Fenech ordered weapons including grenades and rifles with hundreds of bullets, as well as a gun silencer and 20 grams of potassium sodium cyanide powder.
Maltese media reported that it was understood prosecutors were seeking life imprisonment for the crime of complicity in murder and a further 20 to 30 years for criminal association. The indictment was filed by the Deputy Attorney General Philip Galea Farrugia.
This statement by IPI is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.