Muscat issues statement: Fenech would implicate me unless I gave pardon

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat suggests he could have been blackmailed over Fenech’s request for pardon

Joseph Muscat said he had received a message saying that unless he advised in favour of a presidential pardon, “a testimony would be given by Yorgen Fenech to implicate that he had two telephone calls with him some months back.”
Joseph Muscat said he had received a message saying that unless he advised in favour of a presidential pardon, “a testimony would be given by Yorgen Fenech to implicate that he had two telephone calls with him some months back.”

Malta’s prime minister Joseph Muscat has issued a public statement saying he reported to the police on Thursday, saying he had received a message that unless he advised in favour of a pardon for Yorgen Fenech, the magnate would implicate him over two telephone conversations.

Muscat, who is expected to resign imminently, said he had received a message saying that unless he advised in favour of a presidential pardon, “a testimony would be given by Yorgen Fenech to implicate that he had two telephone calls with him some months back.”

Muscat declared that no such calls were ever made.

“This can easily be verified. The Prime Minister already said he met Yorgen Fenech at either social events or at meetings in his role as shareholder of one of the country’s biggest group of companies. The last such encounter was in February 2019.

“The Prime Minister refused an initial request for pardon by Yorgen Fenech following advice by the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner. The Cabinet refused a second request under similar advice after the Prime Minister withdrew from the meeting.”

Muscat’s final hours in a decisive Cabinet meeting held on Thursday evening edged his government close to breakdown, after various ministers threatened to resign after learning from the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police, a debrief on the Yorgen Fenech request for a pardon.

A cabinet member told MaltaToday that the debrief left them bewildered and shocked. “It left us with no doubt that no presidential pardon should be given to Fenech, but we were concerned that Schembri's release should have been accompanied without clear explanations about all the points raised in the media leaks.

“It was a stormy meeting. We could not comprehend why the police had simply released two sentences to announce the release of Keith Schembri. The police should have addressed questions that were raised including the allegation that was denied by Schembri that he allegedly passed on a note to Fenech through his doctor when on police bail.”

While Muscat first claimed he would stay on as prime minister, he is now expected to step down and kick-start a leadership contest inside the Labour Party.

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