Vincent Muscat, one of four people accused of the car bomb blast that killed prominent Malta journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He also has to pay 42 thousand euros in compensation for legal costs. Muscat could be released as early as 2027 with a reduction in the sentence for already served time and good behavior.
Muscat struck a deal with the investigation and pleaded guilty to the murder that plunged the ruling Malta Labor Party into a political scandal and led to the resignation of its prime minister in late 2019. In a statement to the court, the lawyer for the Caruana Galizia family welcomed Muscat’s condemnation, saying that “this move will lead to full justice.” On Tuesday, February 23rd, the police made three new arrests, detaining brothers Adrian and Robert Agius, as well as their associate Jamie Vella, on suspicion of supplying the bomb used to kill Caruana Galizia.
Muscat, whom the prosecution believed was a hit man, the Guardian reported, negotiated a lighter sentence in exchange for providing the state attorney with information on other persons involved in the crime. He was also pardoned by the country’s authorities in order to shed light on a completely separate case – the 2015 murder of lawyer Carmel Chirkop. On Monday, February 22, Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela and his cabinet approved a petition to pardon Muscat for the crime. Chirkop was killed on his way to work. The case was never solved.
Caruana Galizia, 53 at the time of her death, worked as a journalist for 30 years and accused Maltese politicians and other officials of corruption on her popular blog Running Comments, according to the BBC. She was a harsh critic of the government and effectively provoked early elections in Malta in 2017 by publishing allegations of the then prime minister’s involvement in the so-called Panama Papers scandal. The journalist is survived by her husband and three sons.