Muscat confirms he asked Keith Schembri to stop Yorgen Fenech from leaving Malta

‘Make sure this guy doesn’t leave,’ Joseph Muscat recalls telling Keith Schembri in a phone call the day before Yorgen Fenech was arrested on his yacht

Joseph Muscat says he acted on information that he received to ensure Yorgen Fenech did not leave Malta
Joseph Muscat says he acted on information that he received to ensure Yorgen Fenech did not leave Malta

Joseph Muscat has confirmed that he called his chief of staff Keith Schembri and asked him to make sure that Yorgen Fenech does not leave Malta.

The former prime minister was asked about the testimony Schembri gave in court this week that he had received a call from Muscat at night asking him to convince Fenech not to leave the island.

Muscat described the conversation he had with Schembri in comments to Times of Malta: “I had spoken to Keith Schembri and I remember telling him over the phone, ‘make sure this guy doesn’t leave’.”

Fenech is the suspected mastermind of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination.

Schembri told the court that he had a 20-minute conversation with Fenech in which he urged him not to shine the spotlight on himself. Fenech purportedly replied that he was going with his yacht for a scheduled maintenance visit to Sicily.

Fenech was arrested in an operation by the Armed Forces of Malta in the early hours of November 19 last year after they intercepted his luxury yacht as it sailed out of the Portomaso marina. Fenech has denied he tried to escape.

Muscat said he did not know how Schembri had relayed the message to Fenech. However, he said it would have been a problem were he to have told Fenech to leave the country before his arrest, rather than the other way around.

“Imagine we got to a situation where a certain person is no longer on the island,” he said, adding that he did not want to imply that Fenech had been trying to escape.  

Muscat said that he had received information which was “corroborated by a number of sources and authorities”, that there may be a move by Fenech to leave the country.

Muscat said that, once informed, he had taken the measures he believed necessary and said these were documented with a number of authorities, including with the AFM.

The former prime minister who resigned in January after the Caruana Galizia murder investigation started pointing to links with his office, insisted that all the testimony in court had so far showed that he had done his part.

“I think even more than my part to get to the investigation to where it is today,” he added.