Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s decision to call a snap election in 2017 may have been linked to the commissioning of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, according to Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi, the lawyer of the assassinated journalist’s family.
Sunday Times of Malta today published an update on the police investigations into the journalist’s assassination. The newspaper reported that investigators believe Caruana Galizias murder was originally commissioned in early 2017. However, it was initially postponed before the final go-ahead was given in August that same year, two months before the murder.
In a series of tweets, Azzopardi said this series of events explains why Joseph Muscat called a snap election in May 2017, a year before a general election was scheduled.
Refresh & reconnect dots: emails from corrupt Nexia BT showing €5,000 daily in bribes being planned to be paid into 17 Black. Ask: if a secret offshore company & €2m in ANNUAL bribes to be received in it are revealed, is it motive enough to kill who exposed it? @PieterOmtzigt pic.twitter.com/dU7QMOvyTT
— Jason Azzopardi (@AzzopardiJason) October 6, 2019
He noted that Caruana Galizia had first written about 17 Black, a Dubai company owned by Tumas Group CEO Yorgen Fenech, in February 2017, around the same time her murder had been commissioned. Emails published after her death show that audit firm Nexia BT had listed 17 Black as one of two target clients for offshore Panama companies owned by Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri.
“Now you know the answer to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s question in May 2017: ‘what happened so grave as to force Muscat to call an election a year early?’ 17 Black emails were out. The decision to have her eliminated had been taken. She didn’t know it,’ Azzopardi tweeted.
“Refresh and reconnect the dots: corrupt Nexia BT showing €5,000 daily in bribes being planned to be paid into 17 Black. Ask: if a secret offshore company and €2 million in ANNUAL bribes to be received in it are revealed, is it motive enough to kill who exposed it?”
@TheTimesofMalta revealed that the order to have Daphne Caruana Galizia murdered was issued in early 2017 – exactly l the time she revealed the existence of 17 Black – company which was set up to pump €5K into the secret companies of @MaltaGov @KonradMizzi + @keithaschembri. pic.twitter.com/A7PiDMMOlk
— David Casa (@DavidCasaMEP) October 6, 2019
Nationalist MEP David Casa similarly noted that the order to have Caruana Galizia killed coincided with her first blogpost about 17 Black.
Despite these suggestions, the Sunday Times of Malta reported that police have not found any evidence linking Caruana Galizia’s murder to politicians or people holding political office, although they have not ruled out a possible connection.
Instead, their suspicion has fallen on a “major businessman” who Caruana Galizia was investigating and two accomplices, one connected with the gambling scene and the other with the smuggling underworld.
Muscat has said he called a snap election in May 2017 because Malta was risking economic instability as a result of Caruana Galizia’s allegation that the Panama company Egrant actually belonged to his wife. A magisterial inquiry subsequently dismissed this allegation and found evidence of forged signatures in ‘declarations of trust’ that were handed to him by Pierre Portelli, back then the editor-in-chief of The Malta Independent.