Joseph Muscat was the only witness to take the stand in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder public inquiry on Friday. 

The former prime minister was the most prominent individual to testify in the inquiry which is expected to establish whether the State could have done anything to prevent the murder of the journalist in October 2017. 

Highlights from Muscat's testimony on Friday:

  • He had no regrets of asking Schembri to tell Fenech not to leave the country;

  • Had been threatened that he would be linked to the assassination;

  • His position became untenable when he learnt Schembri was questioned about the murder;

  • Does not recall Fenech showing up at his home before he was outed as owner of 17 Black;

  • Described Caruana Galizia as a one-woman show, who adopted the role of the opposition;

  • It was the Egrant claim which led to early elections in 2017;

  • Melvin Theuma booked a place to meet him at Christmas greetings;

  • Denied claims of a kitchen Cabinet;

  • He had no intention of leaving the country.

'I'm not going anywhere'

2.15pm The former prime minister wants to set something straight, amid claims from Kenneth Rijock.

"My family and I have no thought of fleeing from here, we are happy here."

"As for a man from US (Rijock) who is writing about me, let me say that I have invested part of my funds in a US company (to probe the matter)."

Muscat says he used part of money to get two former prosecutors to check all the districts whether there were any proceedings against him. And they told him there were none.

The public hearing ends but Muscat will continue testifying behind closed doors. 

'I told Keith to tell Yorgen not to leave'

2.08pm Azzopardi fires a number of questions, including about Schembri's lost phone, but they are declined by the judges.

He asks if his last trip as prime minister was to Montenegro.

Muscat quips: "The last trip was to the pope and I hope the pope is not corrupt too."

As for the Montenegro wind farm project, Muscat says he absolutely had no knowledge of Fenech’s involvement and if he was, then anyone who did wrong must answer for it.

Azzopardi: "Was it true that you told Keith Schembri to call Yorgen Fenech on the eve of his attempted escape?"

Muscat: "This is borderline. I told Keith to tell Yorgen not to leave. And I have no regrets about what I did. Imagine what you would have said if this person was allowed to leave!"

Fenech and Schembri

2pm Azzopardi says Muscat recently confirmed a story by Times of Malta that he dropped out of a WhatsApp chat some one month before Fenech's arrest.

Why did he not drop out when Fenech was outed as the owner of 17 Black?

"I think it was a mistake that I left the group," he says.

Azzopardi asks when Muscat first found out that Fenech was a suspect. He does not recall the date but says it was after 2017.

When did he get to know that Fenech was facing drug charges in US?

"Within a matter of days, and I was concerned about him and his family."

Meanwhile, Fenech's lawyer Charles Mercieca has just entered the court room.

He is asked why Schembri went to his house on the eve of his arrest.

Muscat says his chief of staff did so to inform him he's resigning. 

Muscat under the spotlight

1.55pm When did the former prime minister get to know that Caruana Galizia had leaked documents about the Electrogas deal?

Muscat: "When it was in the public domain."

Azzopardi: "Or that Yorgen Fenech knew about early elections?"

Muscat: "Then he knew before I did."

Azzopardi: "What about the president's Republic Day speech when he spoke about a clique that brought shame to the country?"

Muscat does not rebut the statement.

Azzopardi: "One month before Fenech was revealed as owner of 17 Black, do you recall he came to your Burmarrad home?"

Muscat: "No."

Azzopardi: "Is it true that you told Yorgen Fenech to be careful because Theuma was speaking out?

Muscat: "I deny that without prejudicing the case. I spoke to police about that. There is circumstantial evidence rebutting that."

Not aware of any leaks

1.50pm Muscat is asked if he was aware that Schembri was leaking information to Fenech.

"No. I got to know late, I never knew about leak, if at all or by who, but I was certainly not a part."

Muscat says the arrest of the three alleged hitmen was a victory for the state, a statement Judge Said Pullicino agrees with.

"If things that are being said about certain people are true, then I’m shocked. I never saw any ill intent from them, and this is not a question of friends."

'They've screwed me over'

1.45pm Lawyer Jason Azzopardi, appearing for the family, asks about allegations of online trolls deliberately set up to attack the media.

"All I heard was on media. I don’t use Facebook. I wasn’t aware and did not participate. Others tell me that you can be made part of such group without knowing," Muscat replies, saying he condemned such discourse.

Azzopardi pushes on. He refers to Muscat's earlier testimony where he says his first reaction upon hearing of Caruana Galizia's murder was: "they've screwed me over".

"Could that be the prime minister's reaction? Nothing about the fact a mother had been killed?"

Again, there are rowdy exchanges in court.

Muscat clarifies that of course his first reaction was of shock but then confirms his reaction.

Left meeting after setting agenda

1.40pm Muscat reiterates that he took the decision on state pardons following advice by the police and the AG.

"I signed a memo of understanding. As point of departure I was not in favour of any sort of pardon. But when given advice, I went to cabinet who approved it and it went to president."

With Fenech's pardon request, since it appeared that it could have involved the chief of staff, Muscat said he set the agenda and left the meeting after the infamous late night cabinet meeting in 2019. 

What was the threat?

1.35pm Muscat is asked whether he had been aware Schembri had met with murder middleman Melvin Theuma at Castille. 

"No," is the firm reply.

Comodini Cachia reads from a statement issued by the prime minister about holding back from giving comments to media.

She asks him what he meant when he had spoken of threats. Was it from anonymous persons?

Muscat: "I’ve testified about this with the inquiring magistrate. Someone spoke to someone who then told me. The threat was that I would be linked to the assassination."

Comodini Cachia invites him to make a denial, sparking uproar in court.

“I don't even want to entertain that question,” Muscat replies angrily.

Keith Schembri and Melvin Theuma pictured at Castille.Keith Schembri and Melvin Theuma pictured at Castille.

Schembri and MSS meetings

1.25pm Comodini Cachia wants to know whether Muscat had asked Schembri who owned 17 Black. Schembri certainly knew about it since he was going to receive "kickbacks" from it. 

"No, I never asked about that. Keith Schembri told me it was related to common business and nothing to do with Electrogas."

If Muscat knew that Schembri was friends with Fenech, why did he allow his chief of staff to attend meetings with the MSS?

Muscat says he will testify about the MSS behind closed doors.

The judges want to know if Schembri had attended meetings with the MSS until the very end. 

"I'd rather reply to that in private."

Police patrol retained

1.20pm Despite Muscat's lawyer's protests that she was overstepping the remit, Comodini wants to know how the institutions functioned, and to what extent was the Office of the Prime Minister involved in the formulation of a project.

Muscat says that had the National Audit Office found anything irregular about him, it would have flagged the matter.

Lia butts in.

In November 2014, Caruana Galizia had blogged that she did not want police spying on her and she refused patrol. That was in answer to claims to the contrary.

Comodini Cachia says the former police commissioner had told the inquiry that protection was retained nonetheless.

Photo: Jonathan BorgPhoto: Jonathan Borg

Relationship with Fenech

1.10pm Comodini Cachia asks Muscat to clarify what he meant when he was advised to "continue as normal" in his interactions with Yorgen Fenech. 

Muscat says he must have met Fenech some eight times in all the year he's known him. 

"We met socially and rarely spoke about projects. I can answer only for myself. I do have friends in business."

As the board zeroes in on major projects carried out under his tenure, judge Said Pullicino says a shadow lingers over projects, like the (Montenegro) wind farm.

"Don’t you feel that? Is it our imagination?"

Muscat: "I’d never say that people are imagining things. My government did a lot and perhaps we went too fast."

Protection to journalists

1pm Comodini Cachia reads from an email Daphne Caruana Galizia had sent to Christian Kalin of Henley and Pertners in connection with a remark that “an election was coming”. That was around March or April 2017.

Did Muscat speak to Kalin?

Muscat: "No. The election was one year away."

She says that the time Muscat refused to refuse one-on-one interviews, even declining an interview on Times Talk close to the election, among others. 

Comodini Cachia mentions the fact the OPM did not invite all media houses to press briefings about the murder. 

Muscat said after every public visit, he would stop to talk to journalists. 

Grilled about a political billboard depicting Caruana Galizia, Muscat said the blogger represented the opposition at the time.

She refers him to a quote where he said "Malta was being tarnished from Bidnija".

"How do you reconcile this with what you said about protection to journalists?"

Muscat: "I was referring to leader of opposition there. He was the one I was attacking. Read it well."

Comodini Cachia says the manner of addressing Caruana Galizia affected the way people looked at her.

Lia: "That’s a declaration of fact, you're making it a fact that she was divested of protection. On the contrary, she was the one who refused it!"

Comodini Cachia tells judges: "The witnesses who testified here said that Daphne never refused protection."

Lawyer on the offensive

12.50pm Judge Mallia has had enough and chastises Lia: “Every time you call it political narrative, you are making it political.”

The family has a right to intervene.

Lia: "No, no. The family have a right to observe. They are the ones deciding who to summon, what to ask. They are the ones deciding... and the PN. And you have a narrative, you already know where you are heading."

'Political narrative'

12.45pm Comodini Cachia asks about statements being posted on Muscat's Facebook page. 

Muscat's lawyer Pawlu Lia immediately interrupts and says his client is not there to answer political questions. 

Judge Mallia strongly rebuts and says she has a right to ask questions. 

Questions about inaccuracies in those statements will be reserved.

Comodini Cachia asks about an email threatening with SLAPP action in connection with Henley and Partners.

Lia: "It's political narrative."

Mallia: "It's relevant."

Muscat: "I don’t recall but I rely on the lawyer. I wasn’t objecting to a private company taking action about defamation."

Comodini Cachia quotes from an email addressed to Muscat and Schembri.

Lawyers Lia and Charlon Gouder shout out: "that's from a blog!" drowning out her voice. 

Comodini Cachia: "My job here is to ask why the prime minister did not object to action again three local media houses and a journalist."

Muscat: "I didn’t give authorisation but I didn’t object. The two are different."

Advised to go for another early election

12.35pm Muscat is back to testify and questions turn to his resignation. 

What was the real reason he stepped down?

Muscat replies: "Had one of my collaborators been called to answer on a case of corruption, that was one thing. But to be arrested on link to such a major crime, then my position became untenable.

"There was no way out. Although I got advice to go for fresh elections too."

Objection to lawyers' questions

12.15pm The judges have no more questions. The family lawyers want to ask some questions, but Muscat has a problem with that.

"You have taken oath of office, but I won’t be drawn into answering questions with a political motive."

One of the judges suggest that perhaps the family lawyers could pass on questions to the bench.

One of Muscat's lawyers interjects: "since when do lawyers decide upon proceedings?"

Therese Comodini, representing the family, says: "It wasn't me who suggested it."

Judge Mallia suggests a short break to break the tension. And after an almost three-hour hearing, the sitting is suspended.

The day of the murder

12.10pm The focus is on October 16, 2017, the day of the assassination.

Muscat was at an event in Sliema when he got a call from the Armed Forces of Malta about an explosion at Burmarrad.

His immediately feared the worst as his dad has a fireworks factory located there. He called his father but he was fine.  

"Then the information trickled that the explosion actually took place in Bidnija. My heart skipped a beat. Then Keith Schembri came into my office.  I thought they well and truly screwed me up. He (Schembri) said if we don't bring help from overseas then this case won’t be solved. Keith Schembri called Mark Shapiro from the US embassy who said the Americans would be in Malta the next day."

Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaPhoto: Mark Zammit Cordina

Facebook commentary

12.05pm Whoever is handling Joseph Muscat's Facebook account is keeping themselves busy: 21 posts have been published on the former prime minister's page in the two hours that he has been testifying.

Muscat still enjoys wide popularity on social media platforms.

'I left because Schembri was arrested'

12pm Judge: "When did you think that Keith Schembri had erred?

Muscat: "I’m not one to judge. I speak for myself, but it was wrong from day one. That should never have been done. That’s it. Full stop, he says. Whoever gave advice looked at it from legal, financial side but definitely not from a political view point."

Judge: "Why did you leave?"

Muscat: "Because my chief of staff was arrested. On money laundering.

"But also I like US system. I believe that one should serve in office for just two terms. But the minute Keith was arrested, I decided to leave. I considered Keith necessary in the state mechanism and Konrad Mizzi too.

“They were doers. Others would tell you that too. I was surrounded by a group of people. It was a political judgement I took and perhaps I was its own victim."

Caruana Galizia's sons react

11.54am Caruana Galizia's family is not too impressed by Muscat's testimony so far. Matthew Caruana Galizia has described it as a "full-on campaign... to discredit the public inquiry".  

His brother Andrew says: "The overwhelming feeling is a sense of relief that this bitter, twisted man is no longer our prime minister." 

Claims of impunity

11.50am Judge Abigail Lofaro tells the former prime minister that Caruana Galizia was privy to certain data when she was assassinated.

"I don’t know what data she had. But if those people felt they had a sense of impunity, and were untouchable, well they are in jail awaiting judgment."

Again, Muscat fights back against claims of impunity.

Judge Said Pullicino interjects: There seems to have been a 'before and after murder' link between these people. 

Muscat replies: "I don’t care about who dines with who. But the idea that a person in public office lives in isolation can never happen because of the nature of our society."

Judge: "Most of those relationships were linked to controversial projects. That’s what worries us."

'It was all made up'

11.43am Again the focus turns to 17 Black. The judge reminds him that it was a structure for illicit payments involving both Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri.

"Again, Keith told me it was for business purposes. Again it was alleged that I was taking money too. Now it's been proven that it was totally false. Part of a triumvirate, all linked together, including my wife. It was made up... they said money was sent to a friend of hers in New York."

Wrong political judgement

11.35am The judge asks Muscat why he delayed taking any action when the Panama Papers leaks came out. 

He admits that he could have taken more decisive action but says the information came in trickles. 

"And again your honour, may I point out that one inquiry about this, relevant to you, has been concluded."

Judge Joseph Said Pullicino tells him his ministers told them they had advised him to remove Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri.

"What I discussed with my ministers remains private. But here we have common ground. It could be that I made the wrong political judgment. Here I agree with you," he tells judges.

"Go to my predecessor. One of his members had an undeclared Swiss bank account. He didn’t tell him to step down."

Measures to protect Caruana Galizia

11.30am The former prime minister is asked if he was aware that patrols with Caruana Galizia had been stopped.

"No, no. I gave instructions to make sure in 2013 that she and her family were protected. At the time I did not think there would be violence though there could be a form of teasing.

"It's part of the game, like blowing a car horn behind one’s door. That sort of thing. In 2017 I didn’t communicate with commissioner but I’m sure the minister did. You have to ask him."

'She was killed when she became irrelevant"

11.22am Muscat says he is all for freedom of speech but asks why his children are often brought into the equation. 

He speaks about the pain of his children who witnessed posters of him depicting him as a convict on their way to school. 

"But I know what I am. People trusted me and they would again. It’s just me who held back."

He describes Caruana Galizia as a one-woman show, who adopted the role of the opposition, which he said "had finished".

"Caruana Galizia was killed when she became irrelevant to all, to the government and the opposition. And I know her family won’t like this. But it’s mind boggling! Whoever did this crime is stupid!"

Media in role of 'opposition'

11.15am Muscat is asked about his relationship with the media, which he describes as "love-hate", but qualifies the fact that this is not exclusive to Malta.

Mallia says that one point of contention is that the media doesn't find cooperation from the government.

"The media today has taken role of the opposition. We've seen the evolution of a journalist to a campaigner. Every person entering politics places himself under scrutiny, and we've seen the evolution of social media and the figure of the journalist. Abroad you need to be member of organisation to be a journalist. There is no such obligation here. One gets a smartphone and writes what he wants. That too is a journalist."

The traditional role of the journalist is long over, he says.

One must not fear taking decisions when the media is critical. Decisions must be taken and then criticism faced.

Muscat points out that criminal libel was removed under his leadership. 

Egrant claim led to early elections

11.10am Muscat is asked if he was aware of the FIAU conclusions on the Panama Papers, 17 Black and so on.

"We had AG telling them to tread carefully, there was lack of action by the authorities when reports were in hand could have led to this situation," Judge Mallia says.

Muscat said he often had discussions with AG but had no role in his decisions.

He says he did take action on the Panama Papers and removed people from office while the Egrant claim led to early elections.

"I cannot say that Panama Papers didn’t have effect on our country.

"One of my members said that FIAU reports were written to be leaked, and the person who wrote one of their reports has now been accused of perjury," he says, in clear reference to former official Jonathan Ferris.

Friendship with Yorgen Fenech

11am Muscat says he first met Yorgen Fenech in 2008 or 2009.

It was former minister Lino Spiteri who had approached him to see if he was interested in meeting the Fenech family who had drifted away from the party. 

"We met occasionally for the one-off, not every Sunday or sending messages. I also knew he knew my chief of staff."

Muscat confirms he shared a group chat with Fenech and Schembri, which also included photos of wine and drinks, but not of women, as had been reported in some sections of the media. 

"There was a friendship, I don’t deny that. I’m friends with all, with trade union people and so on.

"The moment this happened I knew it would get back to me. But police told me I’m not under any investigation. I never told police what to do or not. That’s not my job. If I did, then there would be problem. I never asked what they were investigating about Daphne Caruana Galizia."

He says the only time he stepped in was when police and Europol were apparently on different wavelengths. They asked for his opinion on the way forward.

"I told them to follow Europol and involve the inquiring magistrate."

Joseph Muscat has known Yorgen Fenech since 2008.Joseph Muscat has known Yorgen Fenech since 2008.

An attempted frame-up?

10.50am Muscat says if the mastermind is found guilty, then that’s wrong.

"But I’m not sorry that I was close to businessmen. I saved many jobs. If I did anything wrong then I’m sorry."

Turning back to 17 Black, he said he had told Keith Schembri to tell the authorities the entire truth.

He refers to his 2019 birthday party where Yorgen Fenech had been invited as a guest.

"I asked authorities, investigators what to do. They told me to act normally. With hindsight..."

I told MSS to indicate who he was. Melvin Theuma came along with family. Right after him came a young lady who told me, 'what are we going to do about Vince Muscat il-Koħħu (alleged hitman)? I’m his daughter' she told me. I immediately called security.

Muscat insists he never met Fenech at Castille except for formal events. He says the only person he met was (murder middleman) Melvin Theuma.

"It was a very interesting case. I used to meet people for Christmas greetings. MSS (Malta Security Services) had told me they had tracked Melvin Theuma's call saying he was going to book a place to take picture with me at Christmas greetings."

"I told MSS to indicate who he was. Melvin Theuma came along with his family. Right after him came a young lady who told me, 'what are we going to do about Vince Muscat il-Koħħu (alleged hitman)? I’m his daughter' she told me. I immediately called security.

"I'm not sure if there was some attempted frame-up."

Throwback to 1998

10.42am The questioning turns to secret company 17 Black, owned by suspect Yorgen Fenech.

"Businessmen got too close to politicians, powers of government. That too led to a sense of impunity," the judge says.

Muscat replies: "Every government must be close to business. Otherwise nothing is done. Economy does not move. The real economy, jobs were our number one priority."

He refers to Eddie Fenech Adami's autobiography when he discussed the looming fall of Alfred Sant’s government in 1998.

After Mintoff voted against, Fenech Adami called all his MPs to be present.

"John Dalli was away so he called his wife. There was no way he could make it back in time. So he had made arrangements for Tumas group to fly him back from Libya. That's intimacy.

"Fenech Adami had not WhatsApped that day but called. I’m not saying there was anything wrong."

No kitchen cabinet

10.35am Judge Mallia asks about the culture of impunity, the so-called circle of people who felt that nothing could stop them. 

"Especially after your massive electoral win, could it be a given these people felt a bigger sense of impunity?"

Muscat: "Do you mean in general or the person charged as mastermind?"

Judge: "In general."

Muscat:  "I was always super accessible to all. That was my reputation. If that emboldened someone I don't know."

He refers to the so-called kitchen cabinet cited by former minister Edward Scicluna.

"But let me clarify. I called cabinet every week. I cannot speak about discussions there but about attitude and my input. Memos were sometimes reversed. And I always spoke last. That was my attitude. I then said if I agreed or not. That was collegiality.

"None of my members ever told me about kitchen cabinet. There was no government within the government."

His chief of staff held an important role to "nudge" ministers, otherwise bureaucracy would slow the flow. 

"Keith Schembri had the drive but I never told anyone to go beyond his remit. If anyone did, then he must pay."

Keith Schembri: the 'nudger'.Keith Schembri: the 'nudger'.

Muscat's warning on inquiry

10.30am Muscat insists: The State had no knowledge that Caruana Galizia was going to be killed. After the Panama Papers, came out, he said he removed Konrad Mizzi from his portfolio and as deputy leader of the Labour Party. Muscat also ordered an audit, despite the impression given that no steps were taken. 

Though he had no legal background, Muscat says he see things from a logical perspective.

"The Panama Papers led to a situation where steps were not taken and Caruana Galizia was killed because of what she was to reveal about Electrogas and so on. That’s the way it’s being put. So we assume that the person accused is already guilty. That’s the line of thought. But proceedings are still ongoing and the motive not yet known and there are other leads, media have reported."

The work of this inquiry might be seen as prejudicing this work and investigations, he charges.

"It’s being said that there were more masterminds. Your report will stand and will not be contested. This type of attitude might even prejudice the next step: family suing  the State for damages. That’s why I was sceptical of the timing of this inquiry."

"If you follow the line of thought I’ve outlined, then it’s up to you. It’s dangerous."

The pending investigations

10.20am There were other cases of ministers facing accusations, especially  Manuel Mallia and Michael Falzon.

"With hindsight and hand on heart I think I was mistaken on both."

Another case concerns the former education minister, which is still ongoing. 

Another investigation concerns his former chief of staff (Keith Schembri) about alleged kickbacks. About that inquiry I think it is your interest to know results. I would like to know if my former chief took kickbacks, all people have right to know.

"That inquiry is ready, but there's no fuss to publish. Regarding Egrant, I went against the AG's advice. I would publish it anyway."

Commentary on Facebook

10.18am Muscat's Facebook profile, meanwhile, has been abuzz with activity, even while the former prime minister is testifying in court. He's posted the opening statement he gave the inquiry to Facebook - in both Maltese and English - and whoever is handling his social media account has also shared a one-line post stating "I never provoked hatred". 

The Egrant claims

10.15am Muscat says he never reacted because he believed in freedom of expression.

"That’s one of greatest arguments at home and with family and friends. Why don’t you take action when you were being branded the king of corruption. I didn’t.

"Then the narrative changed. The company (Egrant) belonged not to Joseph Muscat but to my wife Michelle. First time I heard it I laughed out. I asked her and she said she hadn't opened any companies. If there was an ounce of truth I pledged to resign."

'I never had an account abroad'

10.10am The questioning turns to the Panama Papers. 

The former prime minister explains: Today we know more and the stories were evolving piecemeal and the information was triggered.

"Having a financial structure does not immediately mean that one is doing something criminal. That’s my point of departure."

All those who are mentioned in the Panama Papers or Swiss Leaks do not necessarily have an ulterior motive. There are Maltese businessmen and members of judiciary who were mentioned in the leaks, he says.

In his draft declaration of assets. Konrad Mizzi had highlighted having such a financial structure.

"Konrad Mizzi told me he wanted it for family purposes. If he did right or wrong that’s another matter.

"Then billboards were erected in the streets, showing three figures, the third was a cut out. 'Who does third company belong to?' That was the narrative. The implication was that it was me. I never had an account abroad."

Such a narrative was fed to Caruana Galizia.

Joseph Muscat with Konrad Mizzi.Joseph Muscat with Konrad Mizzi.

'Gutter gossip'

10.05am Judge Mallia takes the first questions. He says Caruana Galizia was commenting about persons in government positions. In reaction, a blog was started by Glenn Bedingfield, who together with Neville Gafà embarked on attacks.

Muscat says Caruana Galizia went from world-class journalism to "gutter gossip" pieces.

"My advice was always to ignore. I never made speeches saying she was a 'bicca blogger' although she wrote about me. She called me Alfred Sant's 'poodle'.

"My mother-in-law was barely in her grave when Daphne wrote about her being in a home. But in public life you have to be like that, a boxer, resilient to punches. Learn to bear it.

"Glenn was a political animal who insisted on freedom of expression. I used to tell him not to react." 

Muscat insists that on his part he never tried to incite hatred against Caruana Galizia.

9.55am 'My time was over the minute she was killed'

In 2000, a bomb was placed outside l-orizzont editor Frans Ghirxi's house; in 2006 Caruana Galizia suffered an arson attack.

"That was one of few times I spoke to her. Nothing was done. There was total impunity," he says, pointing out instead that the inquiry wasted two weeks  discussing the story that journalists had been "held hostage" at Castille.

"There is no justification for her assassination. The moment it happened I knew that my time was over. And after all I did for the country. But before leaving I wanted to do that which my predecessors failed to do.

"I’m here to answer all questions within the terms of reference."

"I would have failed had I not said this. Rather than go to media I say it in your face."

Only one car bomb resolved

9.50am Muscat says he wants to make it clear from the outset: he had no information that Caruana Galizia's life was at risk.

Caruana Galizia said she did not trust the police and refused security detail.

"I had told (former police boss) John Rizzo to take all steps to protect her and her family."

Muscat continues: there were a total of 140 car bombs, only one has been solved. Police are following other leads.

This government has lifted the prescription on crime of corruption.

He says he was called a "half-baked journalist" during his days at One and that he left hundreds of libellous comments go because he believes in freedom of expression. 

Muscat lashes out 

9.45am Muscat says he wants to make some pertinent points about the inquiry, which he points out to the judges, they won't be too pleased to hear.

He says the inquiry turned out to be more of an exercise in curiosity and the questions had little to do with the terms of reference.

The investigation was meant to focus on the State and not just on the current government. There was no scrutiny of the administration before 2013. 

"And what about the judiciary of which you form part. Nothing about that. You are in perfect position to scrutinise that. At one point, the Council of Europe had defined it as a jamboree."

Caruana Galizia was also scrutinising the Opposition in last six months of her life and yet there was nothing about that in the inquiry.

Muscat on his way to the court room. Video: Mark Zammit Cordina

Session starts

9.35am Lawyer Pawlu Lia immediately raises a complaint. "How were people allowed in the court room? What criteria was used?"

He asks why the media reported that Muscat had not replied to the summons.

"As far as I know a witness is not bound to reply to summons."

Finally, Muscat takes the oath.

"Before we start, may I give a declaration," he asks.

He is asked if he is under investigation or police bail. The answer is "no".

Parties gather

9.20am Lawyers Pawlu Lia, Ramona Attard and Charlon Gouder are among those gathering in the court room. Caruana Galizia's three sisters and husband are also present. Space is precious today. 

Joseph Muscat makes his way into court. Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaJoseph Muscat makes his way into court. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

Activists outside court

9.15am A group of activists were outside court holding placards as Muscat made his way to court. One of the placards read: "flixkun inbid bejn il-ħbieb" in reference to Yorgen Fenech's expensive wine gift to the former prime minister. Muscat calmly walked past the jeering protesters and into the court's second floor. 

Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaPhoto: Mark Zammit Cordina

Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaPhoto: Mark Zammit Cordina

A harsh critic

9.10am There was no love lost between the slain journalist and Muscat. Caruana Galizia was a constant thorn in the side of the former prime minister, especially in the run-up to the 2017 election, which is believed to have been brought forward because of the blogger's claims.

Her stories about secret company Egrant had been described as the "biggest lie in Malta's political history" by Muscat.

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