Former prime minister Joseph Muscat has described how he told his right-hand man Keith Schembri not to let alleged Daphne Caruana Galizia murder conspirator Yorgen Fenech leave the island on the night of his arrest.  

“I had spoken to Keith Schembri and I remember telling him over the phone, ‘make sure this guy doesn’t leave’,” Muscat told Times of Malta on Tuesday as he walked out of parliament.  

Fenech was arrested in an operation by the Armed Forces of Malta in the early hours of November 19 last year after they intercepted his luxury yacht as it sailed out of his private Portomaso marina.  

It has emerged in court that Fenech may have suspected he would be arrested and had moved to leave the island. He denies, however, that he was trying to flee from the authorities.  

Testifying in court in the compilation of evidence against Fenech, Schembri said on Monday that Muscat had told him to speak with Fenech on that day.  

Asked about this, Muscat said he did not know how Schembri had relayed the message to Fenech. However, he said it would have certainly been a problem were he to have told Fenech to leave the country before his arrest, rather than the other way round. 

“Imagine we got to a situation where a certain person is no longer on the island,” he said, adding that he did not want to imply that Fenech had been trying to escape.  

“That will be looked into by the courts,” he added.

Muscat said that on the day of Fenech’s arrest, he received information which was “corroborated by a number of sources and authorities”, that there may be a move by Fenech to leave the country. 

Muscat said that, once informed, he had taken the measures he believed necessary and said these were documented with a number of authorities, including with the AFM.

Muscat also insisted that all the testimony in court given so far had showed that he had done his part, “I think even more than my part”, to get to the investigation to where it was today.  

Muscat resigned as prime minister in January on the back of relentless pressure as suspected links between his office and the Caruana Galizia assassination began to emerge. 

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