What they said: the protagonists of the Caruana Galizia public inquiry

Key takeaways from MaltaToday’s liveblogs during the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry over the years

Conclusions stemming from the public inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia were published on Thursday.

The public inquiry was launched on request of the Caruana Galizia family in late 2019 just weeks before the arrest of Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech, the man accused of masterminding the assassination, which prompted first the resignation of his business partner, Keith Schembri, chief of staff to former prime minister Joseph Muscat.

The events led to the resignation of Muscat soon after.

Below are the key takeaways from MaltaToday’s court liveblogs over the last one and half years:

“My resignation was in the national interest” – Joseph Muscat  

Former prime minister Joseph Muscat
Former prime minister Joseph Muscat

On 17 Black: “When I asked Keith Schembri, he told me 17 Black was a business matter between the two of them and had nothing to do with Electrogas.”

On the Panama Papers: “The only step I could take was to keep him or fire him. I opted to keep him… [even after 17 Black].”

On the “mafia”: “No members of any mafia were ever arrested in this country. There are many running around, amongst them members of Azzopardi's party.”

On Electrogas: “I never spoke to Yorgen Fenech on Electrogas. When I asked Keith Schembri, he told me 17 Black was a business matter between the two of them and had nothing to do with Electrogas.”

On his resignation: ‘“It was in the national interest. If my closest collaborator was asked about any case of, say corruption, the argument wouldn't stand, but since it was a murder my position was untenable. I was also advised to call an early election, which I am confident I would have won.”

“I see nothing wrong with businessman owning offshore accounts”- Keith Schembri

Keith Schembri
Keith Schembri

On his relationship with Daphne Caruana Galizia: “She was beneficial to the Labour Party. Every time she attacked us, our gap in the polls grew. I have two hats: Keith Schembri and my family, and the other as campaign manager for the PL. When she attacked the PL I had no issue. I didn't like it when she attacked me personally.”

On foreign bank accounts: “I gave Nexia a carte blanche to open a trust in New Zealand and populate it with assets.”

“It was an immediate decision prompted by what happened [the BOV leakage]. I never had to inform the Maltese tax authorities unless I was moving them into Malta. This never happened.”

“I see nothing wrong with businessmen having offshore structures.”

“I lost my trust in Maltese banks... l’m going to say something personal. My ID card number was blocked for a time on the hospital system. They couldn’t access my documents. I lost trust.”

On the Cabinet: “Cabinet was split into three groups. Ministers who were interested in everything happening in government, others interested only in their remit and others who needed to be pushed. My role made me tread on toes, sometimes. My management experience says that if everyone loves you, you aren't succeeding. However, they all mean well.”

“Caruana Galizia’s allegations hurt me a lot” - Adrian Delia

Former opposition leader Adrian Delia
Former opposition leader Adrian Delia

On Daphne Caruana Galizia: "God forbid that the fact that your tone of arguing is stronger than someone else's would mean that you would raise a hand to your opponent."

“There was a series of stories which implied that I was involved in money laundering. This hurt me a lot. I had been an advocate for 25 years and never had any mention of abuse.”

On the Panama Papers: "Certainly, it is not for me to eulogise the courage of Caruana Galizia in fighting big fights... I mention one that I am also involved in: Vitals... Not everyone has the courage to pursue such stories."

On Yorgen Fenech: I had already said in public that there was an activity organised by the Party where I met a group of business people. Groups of eight or 12. In one of them there probably was Yorgen Fenech.”

“There is no friendship with Yorgen Fenech. There never was.”

“Did Pierre Portelli know Yorgen Fenech?” I understand that he did.”

“There was no €20,000s coming in from anywhere, not Yorgen Fenech, not anyone."

“Everyone was shocked after the murder” - Owen Bonnici

Minister Owen Bonnici
Minister Owen Bonnici

On Daphne Caruana Galizia’s stories: “There was a sentiment in the country that these were stories about purely personal issues. If we are honest, we had all said that it was too much. Even the archbishop had spoken out about it.”

“We need people to do this kind of investigative work, but this style is not my cup of tea.”

On the Panama Papers: “That a minister opens a company in Panama is very naive and shouldn't be done by a politician. I had asked Konard Mizzi about the matter… If he wanted to regulate his family affairs there were other ways to do so.”

On the murder: The prime minister had immediately called a meeting to discuss the murder. Simon Busuttil had also attended. What I remember is that the PM had asked me to draft the legal document related to the €1 million reward. He had also told us that the FBI was involved. Keith Schembri was present for the discussion.”

“Everyone was in deep shock (ras maqtugħa).”

“Brussels felt safer” - David Casa

PN MEP David Casa
PN MEP David Casa

On institutions: “I ended up in a situation where I could not defend the institutions of the country. And then they called me a traitor, instead of helping or defending me.”

“I must always be accompanied by my secretariat. Yesterday, for example, people insulted me in the street in Valletta.”

"How could I accept that (police protection)? That a whole village is deprived of its police force for me. I was more worried for my mother. I started spending more time in Brussels. I feel safer there.”