As punishment for his involvement in one of the most heinous murders in recent Maltese history, Vincent Muscat is set to spend the next 15 years in prison.
Muscat, known as ’Il-Koħħu’, was born in 1963, which means he’ll be 73-74 years old by the time his full prison sentence for the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is up.
However, he’s already spent just over three years in prison, which will be deducted from his sentence. Moreover, remission – which is a standard for most prisoners – will see his effective jail term slashed by a further third, ie. four years.
This means Muscat could be released in seven-eight years when he’ll be 65-66 years old.
A further two years will be added to his sentence if he fails to pay a €42,000 fee in court expenses.
His light sentence comes at a cost – he’ll have to provide information against his fellow triggermen George and Alfred Degiorgio as well as against suspected bomb providers, brothers Adrian and Robert Agius (tal-Maksar) and Jamie Vella.
He was also separately given a presidential pardon in return for providing police with information about the 2015 murder of lawyer Carmel Chircop.
All in all, it looks like a pretty good deal for Muscat, whose crime not only robbed the Caruana Galizia family of a loved one and the country of a journalist but blotted Malta’s name in international fora.
His sentence is three years higher than the minimum sentence – 12 years- and compares well to other high-profile cases.
For example, Jelle Rijpma was sentenced to 30 years for murdering his ex-girlfriend Shannon Mak, Shah Soko Moussa got 25 years for his role in the infamous Afriqiyah Airways hijack, and Erin Tanti got 20 years for the murder of teenager Lisa Maria Zahra.
Muscat’s 15-year sentence is three years higher than what Sege Gauci recently got after police found large quantities of cocaine, cannabis and heroin at his home. It’s also three years higher than what Hungarian couple Robert Attila Majlat and Attilane Majlat got after a court found them guilty of trafficking multiple vulnerable women to Malta for prostitution purposes.
If Muscat’s reduced sentence leads to the prosecution and eventual conviction of people higher up the food chain in the Caruana Galizia murder, it could make sense in the grander scheme of things. Still, it’s fair to feel stung at the lightness of his final sentence, considering the gravity of the murder.
What do you make of today’s development?