Malta's premier to step down over journalist murder probe

MEP delegates Sven Giegold Josef WeidenHolzer Chairperson Sophie in ’t Veld Roberta Metsola) from the law rule of law delegation in Malta in 2018

Mr Muscat has offered his resignation but said he would delay it until next month, in a move that has caused widespread anger on the island nation.

On state TV, Muscat stated that "in the coming time we will launch a process to have a new prime minister". As a result, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and Economy Minister Chris Cardona both stepped down, as well as the prime minister's chief of staff, Keith Schembri, who had his house searched by police last week.

Reporting from the Maltese capital, Al Jazeera's Neave Barker said Muscat's pledge to resign in January had inflamed tensions further.

Caruana Galizia's family said Muscat should have no further involvement in the case and petitioned a court to ensure he was excluded from any further access to the information.

Malta's prime minister since 2013, he has been criticised by opposition politicians for allowing Schembri and Mizzi to stay in their posts. "But it wasn't enough - and that's a lesson about the power of propaganda and how it sows doubt in people's minds, people who knew instinctively that my mother had been murdered by someone very powerful in government in this country, but who for two years were confused and were led to believe that it was low level criminals".

Fenech allegedly paid Theuma 150,000 euros (US$165,000) to "distribute to three men to carry out Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder", according to the Times of Malta, citing unidentified sources close to the investigation.

Opposition lawmakers walked out of parliament in protest, hurling bundles of fake cash at the government benches as they left the chamber.

Prior to the current political and legal crisis surrounding the journalist's killing, Muscat repeatedly said that the murder case would be solved under his watch.

It followed another night of protests in front of parliament on Monday night, where citizens were blocked off Freedom Square in front of the parliament building. One of Yorgen Fenech's companies was listed in the Panama Papers, and Galizia reported on this company, 17 Black, before her murder.

The government has rejected his bid for a pardon.

Her revelations drawn from the Panama Papers - secret documents that were leaked in 2016 - accused top ministers in Muscat's cabinet of corruption.

Schembri, who last week resigned, was arrested in the probe, but later released. A leading investigative journalist, she was part of the team who published "The Panama Papers", a global investigation detailing the shadowy efforts of the super-wealthy to hide money and power from tax authorities and others. 1, 2019, that he would resign in January following pressure from citizens for the truth about the 2017 auto bombing that killed a journalist.

Fenech has pleaded not guilty and said that he has information linking Muscat's former chief of staff Schembri to the crime.



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