Maltese tycoon re-arrested in journalist murder case

Protesters hold up placards and pictures of the late journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia as they gather outside the prime minister’s office in Valletta, Malta November 20, 2019. — AFP pic
Protesters hold up placards and pictures of the late journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia as they gather outside the prime minister’s office in Valletta, Malta November 20, 2019. — AFP pic

VALLETTA, Nov 22 — Maltese police today re-arrested a tycoon in connection with the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, just hours after releasing him on bail, police sources said.

Yorgen Fenech had been detained on his yacht at dawn Wednesday after attempting to sail away from Malta, the day after Prime Minister Joseph Muscat promised to pardon an alleged middleman if he named the person who ordered the attack.

Investigators have described him as “a person of interest” in the 2017 murder of Caruana Galizia, who reported on corruption, including alleging links between high-level politicians and a company that it later transpired was owned by Fenech.

Under Maltese law, police had 48 hours to interrogate and then charge or release him.

The prominent businessman “was released on bail last night, and re-arrested this morning,” a police source told AFP today.

Muscat told reporters today that police had been forced to arrest Fenech the first time because he was attempting to leave the tiny Mediterranean island on his sleek blue and white yacht.

“Police would have preferred to conclude their analysis on the middleman before any further arrests were made,” he said.

Today’s re-arrest buys them another 48 hours.

Fenech, who is from a wealthy family with a sprawling business empire from energy to hotels, was also being questioned today over possible links to money laundering and drugs, the police source said.

The alleged middleman in the case, taxi driver and loan shark Melvin Theuma, who was arrested last week, was hospitalised today for an unknown medical complaint but his condition was not serious, Muscat said.

Security was tightened at the hospital after the 41-year old was admitted, he said.

Caruana Galizia, described by supporters as a “one-woman WikiLeaks”, was blown up in a car bomb on October 16, 2017 at the age of 53. — AFP

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