Yorgen Fenech, the suspected mastermind in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder, has challenged a decision to deny him a presidential pardon, claiming that this breached his right to a fair hearing and ran counter to principles of natural justice.
In a court application filed on Tuesday, business tycoon Yorgen Fenech argued that his rights had been breached when he was twice denied a presidential pardon by the executive branch of government, which until a few hours prior included the man he claimed to have incriminating information about.
Mr Fenech, who was accused of complicity in the murder on Saturday, had his request for a pardon twice turned down by the government. He then sought a pardon directly from the president.
In court documents last week, Fenech’s lawyers had said he could give information about the murder plot and corruption involving persons close to the prime minister including Keith Schembri and former minister Konrad Mizzi.
Mr Schembri resigned last week, hours before he was arrested in connection with the case. He was later released without charge. Dr Mizzi was forced out of cabinet on the same day Mr Schembri was arrested.
Both men were caught with Panama-registered companies which have ties to an offshore trust owned by Mr Fenech.
In his application on Tuesday, Mr Fenech said through his lawyers that he was “preoccupied” by the fact that the decision denying him the pardon had been taken by the prime minister and his cabinet which, “merely a few hours earlier” had included Keith Schembri as the PM’s Chief of staff.
The decision also “seriously prejudiced” the integrity of the murder investigation.
The businessman said that he had been put in the unjust position of having to seek a pardon from Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his cabinet, when that pardon request was based on the promise of incriminating information about a person who until recently was a prominent top official in government, Mr Schembri.
Mr Schembri had made “considerable and constant efforts” to block Mr Fenech’s attempts to divulge information to the competent authorities, even through “intervention by third parties and promises.”
This meant that for some time, Mr Fenech had been impeded in a most “deceptive manner if not also in breach of law,” from passing on information which could incriminate the former chief of staff.
The application also noted that one of the two officials who recommended a denial of the pardon was Police Commissioner Laurence Cutajar, who had also been appointed by Dr Muscat and his government.
“No amount of manoeuvres, media stunts and political gymnastics” could detract from the fact that such a decision by the prime minister and his cabinet seriously breached Mr Fenech’s right to a fair hearing, which extended even to the murder investigation, and also the basic principle of natural justice that no one was to be a judge in his own trial," the application said.
For these reasons, Mr Fenech called upon the First Hall, Civil Court to declare cabinet’s decision as null and void and to order his request to be reconsidered afresh.
Lawyers Marion Camilleri and Gianluca Caruana Curran signed the application.
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