In light of the events of recent days and the statement issued by Joseph Muscat through his deputy spokesman yesterday, Lovin Malta has sent the following email to the sitting Prime Minister. We will update you when and if we receive any response.
I have several questions about the statement Nigel Vella issued on your behalf.
Given that this is probably one of the biggest cases in Maltese history and the whole world is watching, I would appreciate it if you could take the time to clarify the below.
I would be happy to speak over the phone instead or in person.
1. You issued a statement yesterday afternoon after it was made public that Yorgen Fenech, the prime suspect into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, implicated you in his police statement. However, in your press statement, you did not deny involvement in the crime. For the record, do you deny any involvement in the murder itself and/or attempts to cover it up?
2. You mentioned receiving a threat the day before warning that unless you granted Yorgen Fenech a pardon, he would implicate you by mentioning two calls he had with you some months back. Can you clarify who sent you this threat? Was the message sent through an individual or anonymously? Was it over the phone, in person or in writing? Can you clarify for the public to get a better understanding? Who do you believe the threat was coming from? Yorgen Fenech or someone else?
3. Why didn’t you mention this threat to the international press during your press conference? Wouldn’t it have taken the wind out of the blackmailer’s sails?
4. Did you inform Cabinet about the threat you received? If so, how did they react? If not, why didn’t you tell them?
5. In your statement, you also gave information about your latest encounters with Yorgen Fenech. Why did you mention encounters with Fenech if you believe Fenech’s testimony only referenced calls? Or do you have reason to believe he mentions meetings too?
6. When it comes to your encounters with Fenech, do you acknowledge that the information you provided in this afternoon’s statement differs significantly from what you told Jacob Borg some time ago? You originally said you met Fenech about a year or two ago, while now you are saying it happened as recently as February. Given that we now know he was a prime murder suspect in a case you were following closely, why were you so unsure (and erroneous) in stating your latest encounter with him when you were asked by Borg?
7. When did you meet Fenech “in his role as shareholder of one of the country’s biggest group of companies”, as you say in your statement? What were the specific projects you discussed?
8. Did these business meetings take place before or after you were informed that Fenech was the prime suspect in the murder investigation of Daphne Caruana Galizia? If they happened after, did you feel comfortable doing business with a potential journalist killer?
9. What were the social events you mentioned in your statement in which you met Fenech? Can you provide more detail?
10. You made specific reference to the last encounter with Fenech being in February 2019. Can you describe that encounter in more detail?
11. February 2019 coincides with the party you threw in Girgenti where a video emerged of you famously opening champagne and dancing to Mintoff fan music. Is that where you met Fenech last? Did Fenech attend that gathering? And who was the person who invited him? Did you invite him?
12. In your statement, you said you originally refused an initial request for pardon by Yorgen Fenech following advice by the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner. When exactly was this? Did you consult or inform anyone else about that decision?
13. Did you inform Cabinet about this first pardon request that you refused? Why didn’t you mention it at the press conference? You gave the impression this was the first pardon request being given and you couldn’t decide it yourself because Fenech was proposing to implicate your best friend and chief of staff Keith Schembri. Should we conclude that in the first instance, you were happy to take the decision despite this conflict of interest? What changed the second time round?
14. Can you clarify the exact circumstances of Keith Schembri’s resignation? On what specific grounds did he resign and why did you accept his resignation?
15. Do you believe Schembri to be completely innocent of this crime?
16. During the Cabinet meeting press conference, you said you were never told to stop Schembri from attending the briefings. Does that mean he attended briefings until the end? Didn’t you ever fear a conflict of interest given that Schembri was a good friend and business associate of Fenech?
17. Didn’t alarm bells go off when Fenech was named as the owner of 17 Black which had been included in Keith Schembri’s secret business plans? Did you ever ask Schembri whether he was involved in any way with the murder?
18. In your statement yesterday you said you withdrew from the Cabinet meeting. Does that mean you provided no background information about the case or the pardon request? Did you make any opening statements in Cabinet before withdrawing? Do you think you may have conditioned the discussion in any way? Out of a seven-hour Cabinet meeting, for how long were you in the room?
19. You claim Fenech has given four statements to the police. Are you reporting this from direct knowledge of the case or from what you have read in the media? If this is from first-hand sources, can you explain your exact relationship with the police investigation and how such information is given to you?
20. In your statement, you make no mention of your resignation despite top sources in the Labour Party telling all quarters of the press yesterday that you have decided to step down. Why did you avoid clarifying this matter either?
21. How are you planning to clear your name following Fenech’s police statement? What action will you be taking? Will you go to the police headquarters and open yourself to questioning?
Would appreciate your replies at their earliest so we can better inform our readers in Malta and around the world.