Former minister Chris Cardona was arrested on the day of the 2010 HSBC attempted heist, and MPs were communicating with Yorgen Fenech on the day he was revealed as the owner of 17 Black, Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi said on Tuesday.

Speaking in parliament, Azzopardi said Cardona had been arrested by former police commissioner John Rizzo and despite being privy to the information, Joseph Muscat went on to appoint him minister.

"After Joseph Muscat resigned, Cardona was the only one to go to his house to have his picture taken with him. What did he know about Muscat?" Azzopardi asked cryptically.

The MP said the alleged hitmen involved in Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder had said that a serving minister gave them the false keys to enter HSBC before the 2010 attempted heist and gave them footage to know the route to the vaults.

He did not mention the name of the serving minister but referred to Auberge de Castille as the "cradle of the mafia".

In his speech, the PN MP said the authorities must not allow a situation where the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia is used as currency by those accused of the crime to shift the burden they should be carrying.

“Those who went to tea after the murder are now inviting the government for tea,” Azzopardi said.

He was referring to the news, revealed earlier on Tuesday, that co-accused Alfred and George Degiorgio have offered information in exchange for a presidential pardon for all their crimes.

Azzopardi said he did not want to endorse or give credence to the letters sent to the President through the lawyers for the Degiorgios but, again, this was something which the prime minister had hidden, only for it to be revealed by the media.  

The prime minister, he said, lied when last month he said that Vince Muscat (the hitman who admitted his involvement in the Caruana Galizia murder) had not implicated serving or past politicians in very serious crime. 

Now, three hitmen have claimed that the government includes a minister who had carried out a crime and a former minister also involved in crimes with them.  
In November too, through a judicial protest, Vince Muscat had, for the first time, said that a sitting minister was involved in a very serious crime some years ago.

"That judicial protest was never answered by the government. Would somebody accused of involvement in a hold-up not react? Do not even think of favouring a criminal involved in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia on the pretext of solving a separate crime.

“The  murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia cannot be associated with any other crime, directly or indirectly," Azzopardi said. 

Do not even think of favouring a criminal involved in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia on the pretext of solving a separate crime

“Those who went to tea after killing now want the state to have tea with them,” he said.

"Would the prime minister say when he last communicated with the Maksar brothers?" (Adrian and Robert Agius accused of supplying the bomb which killed Caruana Galizia.)

Schembri charges go up to 2019

Azzopardi said that after Reuters and Times of Malta revealed that Yorgen Fenech was the owner of 17 Black and while the opposition requested an emergency debate in parliament, MPs had been in direct contact with Fenech through WhatApp messages.

"Did the MPs realise the gravity of the situation they had allowed Malta to drift into, and how the country's reputation was taking a dive?"

In his remarks, Azzopardi also referred to Saturday's arraignment of former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri and 10 other people. It was not true, he said, that the charges were related to the years before Labour was elected in 2013.

The charge sheets laid out clearly that the charges, which included money laundering, fraud, forgery and misappropriation went right up to 2019, and Schembri became the chief of staff and the power behind the throne in 2013, Azzopardi said.    

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