Updated at 2.45pm with Cardona statement
Secret footage has been released showing a bar-goer claiming he saw Chris Cardona meeting with one of the men charged with killing Daphne Caruana Galizia.
A team from France 2 and Radio France visited the bar last month and were told by a patron, whose identity was established by the Daphne Project, that the Economy Minister "drinks with us here" on weekends. (The voice of the witness has been modified to protect his identity)
A second witness (who was not filmed) gave more details, saying he saw the suspect Alfred Degiorgio and Dr Cardona at the bar one day in November, some time between 4.30pm and 6.15pm.
This witness said Dr Cardona and Mr Degiorgio spoke for some time and, at one point, he claimed he spotted them walking outside together.
On Thursday, Dr Cardona denied even being at a Siġġiewi bar at the same time as one of the men.
The minister had sued Ms Caruana Galizia for libel after alleging that he visited a brothel while on an official visit to Germany.
Alfred Degiorgio and his brother George as well as Vincent Muscat are charged with the murder of Ms Caruana Galizia last October.
The Daphne Project is a collaborative effort between 18 international news agencies, including Times of Malta.
Cardona speaks to police
In a statement issued through his ministry on Friday afternoon, Dr Cardona said that he had given a statement to inspector Keith Arnaud earlier that day, after the undercover footage was published by Times of Malta.
Inspector Arnaud is leading the prosecution in the case against the three alleged killers of Ms Caruana Galizia.
Dr Cardona "categorically" denied having been present at the Siggiewi bar on December 3, the day before the three murder suspects were arrested and also denied having ever held or planned a meeting with them.
He did however confirm that he was a regular patron at the bar on Saturdays or Sundays to watch football matches, saying he had been doing so since "before becoming a minister."
"The minister also stressed that he does not exclude the possibility that there might have been any of the suspects at the bar at the same time, in the same way that he does not exclude that there were several others including politicians from the Nationalist Party," the statement added, noting that the alleged witness in the footage had reportedly been introduced to the media "by a senior official of the Nationalist Opposition”.