Malta is yet to come to terms with the idea that some of the country’s highest officials could be linked to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. The walls are closing in on Keith Schembri, who remains under investigation, but the jury is still out on his best friend, former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Muscat, police have confirmed, is not currently under formal investigation.
But being interrogated under caution is standard procedure when a subject is being faced with major allegations.
The fact that they questioned him under caution could therefore mean they suspect he could have committed a criminal offence.
In a sensational statement following his arrest in November 2019, main suspect Yorgen Fenech told police that Muscat was one of three people who knew about the murder plot after the fact.
He claims he even spoke with Muscat about the assassination on two occasions. The first at Castille, the second at Muscat’s exclusive birthday bash at Girgenti.
Muscat has rejected suggestions he knew about the murder plot, defiantly telling the press he was not under investigation after being called in by police. Major doubts on his statement emerged when police confirmed he was being investigated under caution.
Notably, Muscat has yet to comment on the reveal of a secret WhatsApp group between himself, Schembri, and Fenech, which has been confirmed by police.
Muscat has so far issued denials through social media, sticking by his assertion that he is not under investigation. But by leaving out a crucial reference to being under caution, Muscat, a politician well-versed in delivering a message, is playing fast and loose with semantics.
This is not the first time he has done so. Immediately after Fenech’s arrest, Muscat insisted there was no indication that political figures were involved.
However, Theuma’s pardon, which Muscat approved, included evidence like a photo with Theuma and Schembri and Castille; and a handwritten note naming Schembri as a potential mastermind. Theuma has said he suspects Schembri was involved, but cannot confirm it.
In October 2019, Muscat insisted he had never ordered briefings on the case. But now we know that the order on unprecedented briefings with police and other key figures on the murder investigation was ordered directly from Castille.
Corruption allegations under his administration continue to grow, just as claims that the Electrogas project could have been the motive behind the murder start gathering steam… all while Muscat continues to refuse to reveal who funded a €21,000 trip to Dubai in his last few weeks as Prime Minister.
Muscat is an expert at controlling the conversation. He has a wealth of experience in the media and has a natural ability that is unrivalled among his contemporaries.
However, with evidence mounting that Muscat’s closest associate was linked to the crime, and questions still hanging over his head, should we even listen?
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