Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has confirmed that he told his chief of staff Keith Schembri to contact Yorgen Fenech the eve before his arrest in connection with the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia to prevent him leaving the country.
“ I had spoken to Keith Schembri and I remember telling him over the phone, ‘make sure this guy doesn’t leave’. It would be a problem if I had told him to leave the country not stay,” Muscat told Times of Malta.
Muscat did not provide any details on how he was informed on Fenech’s plans to escape. He also did not say why he decided to tell Schembri to deal with such an extraordinary request.
“I received information that was corroborated by a number of sources and authorities,” he said.
Fenech attempted to abscond from Malta in the early hours of 20th November. His eventual arrest, which was caught off camera by Lovin Malta, led to the political crisis that saw both Schembri and Muscat resign.
Schembri has told the court that he received a phone call at 9pm on 19th November from Muscat asking him to call up Fenech and convince him not to leave Malta. The day before, it should be noted, police investigators opened Melvin Theuma’s evidence box and discovered Schembri’s potential involvement.
However, Schembri also said that he received a message earlier that day from Fenech begging for help. In previous testimony, Schembri said he phoned after this message.
The conversation with Fenech lasted 24 minutes, Schembri confirmed.
Fenech has claimed he was fed information on the case directly from Schembri and former Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta. These details included the arrest of the three men charged with carrying out the murder, a potential pardon, that their phones were wiretapped, and that Chris Cardona’s number was discovered on the phone of one of Daphne’s killers.
Schembri denied all the claims in court.
Muscat has his own close links to Fenech, having invited him to exclusive birthday parties and accepted expensive gifts from the murder suspect.