Prime Minister Robert Abela confirmed he had taken part in a Cabinet decision to deny a presidential pardon to one of Daphne Caruana Galizia's alleged hitmen. 

Abela had said he would be seeking advice on whether to recuse himself, as he had in the past legally represented one of the brothers that Vincent Muscat was willing to implicate in criminal activity.

In a sweeping request, Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, had asked for a pardon for his involvement in the journalist’s murder as well as other crimes, while also offering to give insight on other criminal activity he was privy to. 

Video: Chris Sant Fournier

Replying to questions on Friday, Abela said he had nothing on his conscience, as Cabinet had taken the right decision. 

“I presided over the Cabinet that took that decision. I do not abdicate my responsibilities. There was no reason for me to recuse myself," Abela said. 

The Prime Minister said the decision was taken based on advice by the Police Commissioner and Attorney General. 

He denied having had any conflict of interest in this decision. 

“There was no conflict of interest. If there was a conflict of interest, I would have recused myself. I acted according to my conscience. I am convinced the decision taken is the right one.”

Times of Malta revealed the pardon request had been rejected on Wednesday but Abela had refused to say if he was involved in the decision when questioned that day. 

"Even if you ask me a hundred times, I won't be able to comment," he said when questioned outside Castille on Wednesday.

Muscat’s pardon request is the third such one linked to Caruana Galizia’s murder. 

Self-confessed middleman Melvin Theuma was given a pardon in November 2019.

Theuma's testimony implicated business magnate Yorgen Fenech as the one who ordered the journalist's murder. 

Fenech went on to make his own pardon request, claiming it was former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri who was behind the assassination. Fenech was later charged with involved in the murder. He denies the charges. Schembri has also denied any knowledge of the assassination plot.

In October, a joint investigation by Times of Malta and Malta Today showed how the Agius brothers, who police believe to be the heads of a dangerous organised crime group, have been identified as part of the conspiracy that supplied the bomb used to assassinate Caruana Galizia in 2017.

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