Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said he is sceptical about the effectiveness of presidential pardons in general when asked about a potential immunity deal with one of the murder suspects. 

Dr Muscat said that in the past they had only served to help "people walk free". 

The PM would not confirm or deny claims that one of the men accused of killing Daphne Caruana Galizia had been refused a presidential pardon. 

He was speaking to the press following an event at Mcast in Paola and one day after The Sunday Times of Malta reported that a major businessman is among three potential key suspects behind the October 2017 assassination of the journalist.

Dutch MP and Council of Europe rapporteur Peter Omtzigt reacted to that news by suggesting, among other things, that the government did not want to strike a deal with suspect Vincent Muscat for him to turn state’s evidence. 

The possibility of offering Mr Muscat or one of the other two co-accused a pardon in exchange for information has been on the cards since the first days after they were arrested in December 2017.

Joseph Muscat speaks to the press on Monday. Video: Jonathan Borg

On Monday, Dr Muscat said that he could not comment on any particular case and declined to confirm or deny that claim. 

He however said that pardons had in the past proven ineffective at solving cases. 

“Our history shows that presidential pardons in the past have led to people walk[ing] free and nobody being convicted,” the Prime Minister said. 

Under Maltese law, pardons are granted by the President, acting on the recommendation of the Justice Minister, who must in turn have discussed the matter with the attorney general and police commissioner. 

'Details only benefit suspects'

Dr Muscat said that speculation about who might have been behind Ms Caruana Galizia’s assassination only served to help alert potential suspects. 

“When details are given about suspects, the only people who benefit are the suspects themselves, who get alerted to the fact that they are being followed,” he said. 

Dr Muscat said that he was not privy to details about the investigation, adding “even if I had details, I would not discuss them publicly”. 

The Prime Minister said he did not “receive or request” details about the Caruana Galizia murder investigation, though he sometimes received a briefing about progress when “relevant authorities feel I should know something – not about a person, but in general”. 

He reiterated that he had full faith in the police force and its investigators, and said he had no problem with being summoned as a witness in the case, though he did not know what he would be expected to testify about. 

"I have nothing to hide," Dr Muscat said. 

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