Daphne Caruana Galizia murder | A high-profile arrest, protests and the search for truth

23 November, 09:31
The Prime Minister has been briefing the press on developments in the Caruana Galizia murder investigation

The high-profile arrest of businessman Yorgen Fenech and the news that a middleman has asked for a pardon to tell all on the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder characterised a dramatic week in which the police have come closer to solving the assassination. This is what happened:

Tuesday, 19 November

The media report that the police have arrested a man who claims to be the middleman in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder. The man is asking for a presidential pardon to tell all.

MaltaToday names the man as Melvin Theuma, a taxi driver with past cases of usury. He is being kept in a secure location.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat confirms that the alleged middleman has asked for a presidential pardon and he will recommend one on condition that the information is first corroborated by the police. Muscat says he has signed a letter of commitment and negotiations were being held with the middleman's lawyers.

Once the news is out, security forces are put on alert and tasked to carry out surveillance of key individuals who may be persons of interest in the Caruana Galizia murder investigation.

The Malta Business Registry receives documentation from the Tumas Group and its subsidiaries indicating that CEO Yorgen Fenech has resigned all directorships and is being replaced by his brother, Franco Fenech. The resignations are dated 12 November. The Tumas Group formally announces this 24 hours later when Fenech is arrested.

Wednesday, 20 November

Businessman Yorgen Fenech is stopped by two Armed Forces of Malta patrol boats from leaving the country on board his yacht, Gio. The man is intercepted at sea at 5.30am, just after his yacht exits the Portomaso Marina. Fenech is arrested and taken into police custody for questioning.

The Prime Minister confirms that Fenech is a "person of interest" in the Caruana Galizia murder investigation. It is understood that Theuma and Fenech may have got to know each other in horse racing circles.

Pressure grows on Muscat to kick out his chief of staff Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi, given their business dealings with Fenech through their secretive Panama companies. Fenech owned 17 Black, the Dubai company listed as a target client of Schembri's and Mizzi's Panama firms.

READ ALSO: 17 Black, Daphne Caruana Galizia and Yorgen Fenech: a timeline of events

In the evening, Opposition MPs walk out of Parliament after the Prime Minister refuses to say what he will do with Schembri and Mizzi.

Civil society NGOs organise a protest in Valletta, asking for the resignations of Schembri, Mizzi and the Prime Minister. The protest turns sour when people surround Justice Minister Owen Bonnici's official car as they kick it and bang on it.

The Tumas Investments bonds on the Malta Stock Exchange have 7% wiped off their value on the news of Fenech's arrest.

Thursday, 21 November

Yorgen Fenech remains in police custody but is released on police bail during the night, several hours before the 48-hour arrest time window lapses.

He is placed under strict supervision as investigators continue piecing together the puzzle. Muscat confirms that Fenech's arrest was not based on any information the middleman may have given the police and that negotiations on the pardon were still ongoing.

The Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, the anti-money laundering agency, writes to all practitioners seeking urgent information on any dealings or services they may have had with Yorgen Fenech and a list of around 60 companies he is involved in. Police have widened the scope of their investigation to include money laundering.

READ ALSO: Joseph Muscat's three choices: No change, leave or just kick them out

Friday, 22 November

At around 6am, Fenech is re-arrested, kicking off another 48-hour time window. In Fenech's presence, police conduct various searches on the businessman's yacht and other property he owns. In the evening, Fenech is taken back to the police depot for further questioning.

No further arrests have been made despite confusing information published in the media. Theuma is taken to Mater Dei Hospital after complaining of medical issues.

In-Nazzjon reports that Theuma has given the police recordings and screen shots of conversations, which allegedly show Fenech discussing Caruana Galizia's murder. The news is so far not confirmed but on Twitter, Simon Busuttil says the recordings are safe "in the hands of the magistrate".

The Caruana Galizia family says the Prime Minister must step back from the police investigation as they criticise his daily updates on the developments.

A second anti-corruption protest his held in Valletta. People call for government resignations and decry the "mafia state".