Chris Cardona’s 24-year political career has come to an ignominious end after Prime Minister Robert Abela asked the former minister to resign as Labour’s deputy leader.
Abela said on Wednesday morning that Cardona had tendered his letter of resignation.
Cardona has over the past weeks been increasingly linked through court testimony to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination in October 2017. However, he always denied any involvement in the murder.
It was just two months ago that Cardona handed in his resignation as an MP but expressed his intention to stay on as deputy leader.
Cardona was first elected to parliament in 1996 and was re-elected in 1998, 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2017 general elections.
The 2013 election would be Cardona’s big break, with then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat entrusting him with the economy portfolio, which he retained after the 2017 snap election.
Never far away from controversy, Cardona’s time as minister was characterised by serious questions about his lifestyle and frequent trips abroad on the public purse.
He took over as Labour’s deputy leader in June 2016, following on from former minister Konrad Mizzi’s short-lived stint in the role which ended after a few weeks as a result of the Panama Papers scandal.
The beginning of 2017 saw Cardona embroiled in a vicious confrontation with Caruana Galizia.
He responded by slapping the journalist with several libel suits and an asset freeze
When she published an eyewitness account on her blog about his alleged visit to a brothel while away on government business, he responded by slapping the journalist with several libel suits and an asset freeze.
Mobile data showing his movements that night was preserved by a court but never saw the light of day, because the lawsuits were struck off.
A 2018 investigation into Caruana Galizia by a consortium of journalists under the Daphne Project umbrella had first flagged how Cardona regularly visited the same Siġġiewi bar as two of the alleged triggermen – the Degiorgio brothers.
He had dismissed calls for him to step down following the revelations – a position backed by Muscat.
The following year would again see Cardona linked to the journalist’s car bombing, this time through a letter allegedly authored by Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri and passed on to murder suspect Yorgen Fenech in an apparent bid to pin the murder on the economy minister in November 2019.
Cardona announced he was “suspending himself” as both minister and Labour’s deputy leader a few days after he and members of his secretariat were questioned by police in connection with the murder.
He was reinstated in the two roles a week later.
Cardona’s reinstatement as a minister would prove to be short-lived, as Prime Minister Robert Abela snubbed him for a cabinet post in January.
Having maintained a relatively low profile in the ensuing months, Cardona would once again find himself firmly in the headlines once the compilation of evidence against Caruana Galizia’s alleged killers began.
Self-confessed murder middleman Melvin Theuma told a court that he had heard that Alfred Degiorgio and George Degiorgio, two of the alleged executioners, were receiving money from Cardona.
Johann Cremona, an associate of murder suspect Yorgen Fenech, told a court this week how Fenech had sent him a photograph of someone known as Il-Biglee.
Cremona said Fenech told him Il-Biglee was the middleman between Cardona and Alfred Degiorgio.
Cardona has continued to deny any wrongdoing, claiming he is being framed for the murder by unknown individuals.