France opens probe into Maltese journalist's murder

2 min

Paris (AFP)

French justice officials have opened an investigation in connection with the 2017 killing of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia to determine if there was a French connection, they said Wednesday.

One of those suspected of being complicit in Caruana Galizia's murder, Maltese businessman Jorgen Fenech, owns hotels and a racing horse stable in France that might have been used to make payments to Maltese political aid Keith Schembri and ex tourism minister Konrad Mizzi.

Caruana Galizia was probing alleged payments to Schembri, cabinet director to Malta's prime minister, and Mizzi, who formerly served as energy minister, when she was killed by a car bomb on October 16, 2017.

Joseph Muscat, the Maltese premier at the time, subsequently resigned following accusations that he had interfered to protect Schembri and Mizzi.

Fenech was co-owner of a group that won a large energy concession from the Maltese state.

In December 2019, Caruana Galizia's family and the French media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) accused Fenech in a French court of being an accomplice to murder and corruption.

His French activities might also have served to pay those hired to carry out the bombing, their legal motion argues.

The investigations by French officials charged with fighting corruption and financial and fiscal violations "will be carried out in close cooperation with Maltese justice officials in charge of investigating the murder," the French financial prosecutor said in a statement.

Three men accused of the murder itself have also been arrested, and Fenech has been indicted on charges of being an accomplice.

Caruana Galizia had revealed that a company based in Dubai, 17 Black, paid two million euros to Schembri and Mizzi.

After her death, a group of journalists who took up her investigation showed that 17 Black was owned by Fenech.