Updated 7.30pm with Keith Schembri's reaction

  • Typed note was passed on to Yorgen Fenech
  • Note detailed plan to frame Chris Cardona 
  • Encrypted phone was smuggled to Fenech 
  • Schembri denies all

Fears that Keith Schembri and Yorgen Fenech had plotted to "frame" Economy Minister Chris Cardona for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia were raised during a tense late-night Cabinet meeting on Thursday.   

Multiple Cabinet sources confirmed to Times of Malta that a number of ministers told Prime Minister Joseph Muscat during the Cabinet meeting on Thursday they were concerned and “angered” that there appeared to have been an attempt to pin the assassination of Ms Caruana Galizia on Dr Cardona.

Dr Cardona and at least one member of his staff were briefly called in for questioning in relation to the murder probe last week. 

During Thursday night's meeting, ministers heard from investigators who detailed how a typed note had allegedly been passed on to Mr Fenech while in police custody directing him to pin the murder on Dr Cardona and providing details of how this should be done. 

The letter was alleged to have been passed on to him by doctor Adrian Vella, Times of Malta has confirmed.  

Dr Vella, who treats both Mr Fenech and Mr Schembri, was arrested this week on suspicion that he was passing messages to the businessman on behalf of the former chief of staff.

Sources said the letter had also been written by hand, indicating that the details of the alleged plan to pin the murder on Dr Cardona had been altered at some stage and communicated “back and forth”. 

The sources also said Cabinet ministers were shocked to hear of these revelations from the investigators. 

"The ministers were livid at the way Keith Schembri was believed to have been let off. Some think he wasn't seriously probed, especially those among us with a legal background," one Cabinet member said. 

Mr Schembri told Times of Malta he would never do anything to implicate any colleagues in wrongdoing, on the contrary he has always protected them.

"The note you mentioned is a four-pager which I've been shown and which I have nothing to do with. I deny it all and I have said this in testimony and under oath," he said.

Sources insisted the investigators assured them that the probe into Mr Schembri was not over.   

A secure phone smuggled to Fenech 

Meanwhile, separate sources close to the investigation have told Times of Malta that Mr Fenech had been handed a secure phone during one of his sessions with Dr Vella. A number of encrypted calls were made, the sources said. 

An emergency meeting of Cabinet on Thursday went on until just after 3am on Friday.

During the marathon six-hour meeting, Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar, Attorney General Peter Grech, and members of the investigation team, discussed the request for a presidential pardon made by business tycoon Yorgen Fenech, a suspect in the Caruana Galizia murder probe.

Mr Fenech asked for a pardon twice, claiming he could reveal other names higher up in the chain who had ordered the murder of the journalist in October 2017.

Police Commissioner Laurence Cutajar and Attorney General Peter Grech recommended a refusal to the Prime Minister when Mr Fenech first requested it, Dr Muscat told local and international reporters at around 3.30am on Friday morning.

In the last week, Mr Fenech upped the pressure and named Mr Schembri as the mastermind of the murder.  

Among other things, Mr Fenech has alleged to have details of fresh corruption claims involving Mr Schembri. 

The former right-hand man to Dr Muscat was released from police custody on Thursday night. In a statement, the police said they did not feel the need to hold Mr Schembri any further.  

Dr Cardona was a frequent target of Ms Caruana Galizia and was suing her at the time of her murder in October 2017.