Malta PM Joseph Muscat to resign over journalist’s murder probe

Malta PM Joseph Muscat to resign over journalist’s murder probe

Joseph Muscat is under pressure over for his handling of an investigation into the murder of prominent investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia [Yara Nardi/Reuters] [Reuters]

Joseph Muscat is under pressure over for his handling of an investigation into the murder of prominent investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia [Yara Nardi/Reuters] [Reuters]

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said he will resign in January following public pressure over his handling of a probe into the killing of prominent anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

In a televised address to the nation on Sunday, Muscat said he had informed the president that he would resign as leader of the governing Labour Party on 12 January.

“In the days after, I will resign as prime minister,” added Muscat,¬†who has been in power since 2013.

Labour Party had been expected to hold a leadership election in January. The party has a comfortable majority in parliament, which suggest that a new leader could become prime minister without the need for a national election.

Muscat’s announcement came hours after thousands of Maltese protested outside a courthouse in the capital, Valletta, demanding that the prime minister step down.

Calls for Muscat to quit grew after a probe into the 2017 car bomb killing of Caruana Galizia led to charges on Saturday against a businessman with alleged ties to government ministers and senior officials.

Yorgen Fenech, 38, was taken to a Valletta court late on Saturday and charged with complicity in the murder. He pleaded not guilty to that and other charges.

Fenech was charged after the government turned down his request for immunity from prosecution in return for revealing information about the murder plot and about alleged corruption involving Muscat’s former chief of staff Keith Schembri and former Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, among others, court filings showed.

Schembri and Mizzi resigned on Tuesday and Schembri was interrogated for two days by police before being released without charge. Schembri has denied any wrongdoing. Mizzi on Tuesday denied any business links with Fenech and any wrongdoing.

In his address on Sunday evening, the prime minister struck a defiant tone, saying that every day since Caruana Galizia’s murder he had shouldered responsibilities in “the interests of the case”.

He added however that “some decisions were good while others could have been better made.”

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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