Given Yorgen Fenech’s clear involvement in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, a full Presidential pardon seems outrageous. You cannot blame her family for rejecting the idea outright.
But today there is a strong argument to be made for us to reconsider whether Fenech should be given some form of immunity or reduced sentence to reveal the full extent of what he knows about our political class and its involvement in various major crimes.
It is also time to set up a powerful tribunal and an independent prosecutor who are entirely dedicated to deciding and prosecuting all cases of corruption and abuse of office.
Let’s remember that when Cabinet refused Fenech’s request for a Presidential Pardon early on November 29th, the Maltese public was a lot less wiser than it is today.
For starters, we did not know there was a death note by middleman Melvin Theuma stating that the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia was commissioned by both Fenech and the Prime Minister’s former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri.
We were not yet told that the Prime Minister’s security detail Kenneth Camilleri promised to bail out the Degiorgio brothers for €1 million each.
We did not know that Fenech claimed Schembri paid him €75,000 in a Reebok bag for the murder.
We did not know Schembri and Fenech were fraternal friends who grew up together, went abroad together, including on Fenech’s yacht, and cooked at each other’s houses twice a week.
We did not know that Schembri attended all the security briefings in this case. Or that crucial information was being leaked to the subjects of this investigation.
It had also not yet been stated under oath that Schembri passed on a letter to Fenech through their mutual doctor Adrian Vella who referred Fenech to hospital with chest pains while under arrest.
Crucially, when Cabinet took the decision to refuse Fenech a pardon, Muscat had not yet given up his political career.
He had not yet said he was betrayed by Schembri, something he has yet to fully elaborate upon.
When Cabinet took its decision, Fenech had been branded the mastermind of this murder, and there were very few reasons to doubt this was the case.
But this is now becoming much murkier thanks to the cascading corroborative circumstantial evidence emerging each passing day.
It is now becoming obvious – even after Schembri’s evasive testimony today – that this assassination and its coverup was not simply the job of a handful of people.
It is hard to believe this was the exclusive work of just three seasoned criminals and two dodgy businessmen.
This crime has now reached the highest echelons of the Maltese government.
And beyond the murder or its coverup, there are many other crimes that are unravelling: corruption, breaching state secrecy laws, trading in influence and obstructing justice just to name a few.
What we know today could still just be the tip of the iceberg. Each day that passes makes this scandal look more like Italy’s Mani Pulite, which required corrupt players to provide key information.
For Malta to reach full closure on this case, we need to get all the information we can. And it seems there is one person who holds the key to this information, or at the very least can be a catalyst for more to unravel. His name is Yorgen Fenech.
Arguably, the pardon Muscat gave to Theuma is more questionable. After all, did we really need a pardon when recordings and other evidence could have already been enough to implicate Fenech?
One could argue that Fenech already has an interest in implicating Schembri – whether or not he gets a pardon.
But at the very least, it is worth revisiting whether some form of immunity or plea bargaining is now required to get to the bottom of the rot that has taken over the Maltese state.
It is also crucial to remember that a court’s compilation of evidence hearing is not the place to hear his testimony. What Malta needs is a strong investigative and judicial body similar to what that of the Maxi trials or the Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala.
It is not up to the media to determine whether or not Fenech should be given some form of immunity. But it is our role to remind people that the conditions in which his pardon was refused have since changed dramatically.
This is no longer just about a murder, which is why Chris Fearne’s pledge to overcome this crisis in his first 100 days if he is elected Prime Minister is at best highly optimistic.
For years, we have looked the other way as a criminal “gang” (to use the President’s terminology) captured the state.
It is now time we stop looking away and do everything we can to get to the bottom of what really happened during L-Aqwa Żmien.