Malta is still coming to grips with the news that the business magnate and owner of 17 Black had been arrested and named as the official suspect in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. However, questions are being asked if and when he will be charged with a crime.
If the police fail to charge Fenech with any crime by tomorrow morning, he’ll be able to leave his cell and no longer subject to interrogations.
Maltese police are obliged by law to either charge him or release him with 48 hours, with the public anticipating a court appearance by the end of the day.
Enshrined in Malta’s constitution, the 48-hour rule has its own complexities. In the past, police would simply arrest a person, wait 48 hours to release, and then just rearrest them as soon as they left Police Headquarters.
The issue led to a legal challenge in 1981, with a court ruling in Joseph Galea’s favour and imposing that a fair interval between the first and successive arrests.
However, since then police bail has been introduced, which means that investigators can release a suspect subject to conditions. These conditions usually include a ban from leaving the country and a requirement to attend either the Police Headquarters or a police station on certain days.
With certain investigations proving complex, police bail allows investigators to keep tabs on the suspect while continuing their search for the truth.
Fenech was arrested at around 5:45am yesterday, after AFM patrol boats intercepted his yacht leaving the Portomaso Marina, less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced that he recommended a pardon for the middleman in the assassination.
Photos sent to Lovin Malta show the exact moment this happened.
Fenech is the owner of 17 Black, the Dubai-based company that was allegedly set up to transfer millions to the Panamanian companies owned by former energy minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri.
He is also the director of Electrogas, the firm which operates Malta’s new gas-fired power station. The power station was a critical electoral pledge in Labour’s campaign to take government in 2013 and was under Konrad Mizzi’s remit back when he was Energy Minister.