Malta – Pardon to Fenech denied by cabinet – PM Muscat to stay – Schembri Released – Protests through the night
At the end of a seven-hour long cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that Yorgen Fenech asked for a presidential pardon three times, all of which were denied.
Maltatoday reports Joseph Muscat saying “I left the final decision with my colleagues who decided that it’s not fit to grant a pardon,” he said, adding that as far as investigations were going, his former chief of staff Keith Schembri was not involved in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.”
The Malta Independent reports that as the night wore on, tensions ran high. Protesters that were in Castille squere began arguing with the police at around 1.20am, as the police began pushing back barricades they had placed earlier even further. This resulted in protesters chanting ‘mafia’ and yelling other slogans. When the press were finally called for a press conference at 2.40am, protesters tried to rush into Castille, but were unsuccessful.
The Independent reports Caruana Galizia saying “If that rat was in jail – Keith Schembri – and he is a rat we all know this now, my mother would still be alive. The reason he was never put in jail was that other rat, the Prime Minister. Now they are working together to cover up my mother’s murder, right there in that building. And we are out here in a cage put up by the police and those murderers are running around freely, not just that, but in the Prime Minister’s Office.”
The Times report on the Cabinet meeting says “Muscat said that Fenech then made a second request. He again asked the Attorney General and Police Chief for their advice. This time, he said, Fenech had made allegations about his former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, and the allegations, he said, were investigated by the police. Muscat said that Cabinet was informed that all other allegations he made were also being investigated actively. “Due to the person implicated, I did not want to take the decision. I asked Cabinet to take a decision after hearing from the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General.”
He said that he left the room for this part of the meeting, where the pardon was being considered, and left deliberations up to his Cabinet colleagues. “The Police Commissioner and the Attorney General’s detailed recommendation is that there is not sufficient reason to grant a Presidential pardon to Fenech. Cabinet unanimously agreed.”
Newsbook reports that at the end of the Press Conference, the journalists were not allowed to leave the OPM.
Earlier, Yorgen Fenech filed a constitutional case against chief investigator in the Caruana Galizia investigation, Keith Arnaud. He claimed that Arnaud has to be pulled off the case because he has been feeding information to Schembri.
The Independent reports that 17 Black Owner Yorgen fenech has written to President of Malta George Vella, arguing that it should not be Cabinet that decides whether such a pardon be granted due to the people Fenech wants to reveal information about. In the letter to the President, lawyers Gianluca Caruana Curran and Marion Camilleri, on behalf of Yorgen Fenech, referred to a request for a Presidential Pardon in order to deliver “all information regarding the facts.”
Shift News reports Opposition Leader Adrian Delia made a statement on video immediately after the close of the press conference. “The government and institutions will continue to be run by Joseph Muscat, as he refused to resign and retains control of an investigation that led to Keith Schembri’s release,” he said. “Our country is being run by someone who lost all legitimacy. Those around him are involved in serious crimes. Justice has not been done, and neither will it be seen to be done.”
“The country is in a constitutional crisis,” Delia said. “The Opposition is considering its next steps in the nation’s interest.”
In a statement, civil society groups Repubblika and Occupy Justice and blogger Manuel Delia described Mr Schembri’s release as “an attack on Maltese democracy and justice”.
The Prime Minister, they said, exercised his “disproportionate powers” to protect “his best friend if not himself as well” from paying for crimes.
Keith Schembri’s release was incomprehensible, they said.
Newspapers for Friday say the following
The Times leads with the release of Keith Schembri from custody on Thursday night. A police statement said that there was no need for him to be kept under arrest following ‘intensive investigations’ conducted in the past day.
The Independent says that businessman Yorgen Fenech is calling for the removal of inspector Keith Arnaud from the investigation in the Caruana Galizia murder, arguing that he has close ties with Keith Schembri.
L-Orizzont says that Yorgen Fenech has written directly to the President seeking a pardon to reveal ‘all the facts.’ Meanwhile, he filed a Constitutional case against authorities which is expected to be heard tomorrow afternoon.
In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Adrian Delia who said that with every passing minute that Joseph Muscat remains Prime Minister, the risks for the country become higher. Delia warned that unless the Prime Minister steps down, justice will not be served.
The Times reports that an unexpected cabinet meeting was called on Thursday night, and was still ongoing by 1:45. Matthew Caruana Galizia, who was outside Castille with other protesters, denounced the lack of information.
In-Nazzjon says that the marathon cabinet meeting at Castille in Thursday night was discussing the presidential pardon requested by Yorgen Fenech. Earlier in the day the Prime Minister said that investigations into the murder were expected to be finished ‘within hours.’
The Independent claims that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was considering stepping down last Sunday but was convinced to stay on by government advisor Louis Grech and Lands Authority CEO James Piscopo.
L-Orizzont quotes Justice Minister Owen Bonnici who said that this is a ‘moment for unity’ and called for people to support investigators in their work. He said the nation fill find closure once all the facts are established.
L-Orizzont says that activists said that PN Leader Adrian Delia should face justice. The comment by group #JusticeforDaphne was posted in reaction to a social media message by the PN Leader.
CiConsulta BeInformed – Media Monitoring Service – Via The Times, MaltaToday, Malta Independent, Newsbook, L-Orizzont, In-Nazzjon, Net News, TVM, Shift News