Chief homicide inspector Keith Arnaud has confirmed that Keith Schembri features in police investigations into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Arnaud confirmed this in court during the arraignment of main murder suspect Yorgen Fenech in response to questions by the businessman’s lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran.
During today’s sitting, magistrate Audrey Demicoli asked the defence team whether they are contesting the validity of Fenech’s arrest to which they said they aren’t but that they just have some questions. Gianluca Caruana Curran then asked Arnaud whether Schembri featured in the investigation to which the inspector said yes.
As Caruana Curran started asking the second question, the magistrate objected to the line of questioning on the grounds that they had nothing to do with the arrest ad told Arnaud not to answer.
Fenech, one of Malta’s most renowned businessmen, implicated the Prime Minister’s now-former chief of staff while he was under arrest in an attempt to acquire a pardon, a request which was later denied by Cabinet.
Their mutual doctor Adrian Vella is reported to have acted as a secret messenger, passing on a message from Schembri to Fenech, urging him not to expose him to the police while the latter was in hospital for chest pains. Vella and Schembri were both arrested but later released.
Fenech has filed a case to remove Arnaud from the investigation on the grounds that the inspector is allegedly close to Schembri. According to Fenech, Schembri had received regular updates about the investigation directly from Arnaud and the inspector had told him to “be responsible” when implicating Schembri. Fenech also alleged that Schembri’s influence proved crucial in helping Arnaud’s wife land a job as a clerical officer at Infrastructure Malta.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat yesterday said that Fenech had tried to blackmail him, by warning he would state he had two phone-calls with the Prime Minister some months ago unless Muscat grants him a pardon. Muscat has denied this claim and has reported this message to the police.
Muscat has said that he is determined to make sure the murder is solved under watch and that he will make political considerations once arraignments are complete and the “chapter is closed”.
Fenech has now been arraigned and is pleading not guilty, but he is being kept in prison after not requesting bail.
According to several reports, the Prime Minister is expected to resign shortly after Fenech’s arraignment. However, iNews has reported that he won’t resign tonight.