Minister resigns • Husband filmed inside Yorgen Fenech’s Rolls Royce

First casualty in the Abela Cabinet • Minister resigns after footage extracted from Yorgen Fenech’s mobile phone shows Silvio Valletta inside his Rolls Royce

Gozo minister Justyne Caruana with husband Silvio Valletta
Gozo minister Justyne Caruana with husband Silvio Valletta
Prime Minister dodges question on Justyne Caruana resignation

Gozo minister Justyne Caruana has resigned her post over revelations that her husband, a former deputy police chief, had travelled abroad to watch a football match with Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech.

Yesterday the Times revealed that Silvio Valletta had travelled with Yorgen Fenech to the UK to watch a Chelsea play at Stamford Bridge stadium in London on 29 September 2018, when the Electrogas power station owner and former Tumas Group director had already been identified.

Now the Maltese police have in their possession a mobile phone video extracted from the cell phone of the Caruana Galizia assassination’s alleged mastermind Yorgen Fenech, showing Valletta, the former deputy police chief removed from the investigation, inside the magnate’s Rolls Royce.

Caruana submitted her resignation on Sunday evening. She was made minister for Gozo in 2017 and reappointed to the post after Robert Abela was elected Labour leader and PM just a week ago.

But Valletta has denied having had any knowledge of Fenech as a suspect, despite the fact that he was also a board member of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, the same entity that had been investigating the alleged links between the Dubai firm 17 Black and the Panama firm opened by former chief of staff Keith Schembri.

Valletta has declared the mobile phone video was shot after he left the police force, but sources were quoting as saying that it proves an intimate relationship with Fenech.

Valletta on Sunday gave a statement to the police. He has also insisted that he had paid for his flights himself and that he had not been part of the Caruana Galizia murder investigation since June 2018.

Valletta has insisted he had not known of Fenech’s involvement as a suspect, despite having been identified as early as May 2018 by the Malta Security Services. Valletta oversaw part of the investigation but was removed by court order on request of the Caruana Galizia family. He travelled with Fenech months after leaving the force.

In June 2018, Valletta suspended himself from the investigation into the journalist’s assassination after a court ruled that he desist in taking part in the case as a result of a potential conflict of interest due to his marriage to Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana.

The Caruana Galizia family had contested Valletta’s participation in the investigation, insisting he had a conflict of interest as a result of his marriage to Caruana and his role as a board member of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU).

The family said Valletta’s link to a cabinet minister was problematic since the slain journalist had written numerous times about alleged wrongdoing of members of the executive.

The court’s decision was appealed by the Attorney General, but was in October 2018 confirmed by the Constitutional Court, which upheld the order for Valletta’s involvement in the investigation to stop.

Home Affairs minister Byron Camilleri said he had communicated with the acting police chief Carmelo Magri, but said it was up to police top brass to decide on an ethics investigation.

According to The Times, around the time that the trip to the UK took place, the FIAU had just transmitted to the police an intelligence report saying that Fenech was the owner of the secret Dubai company 17 Black. In August last year it was announced in the Government Gazette that Valletta had retired from the police corps and as a result no longer sits on the FIAU board.