Investigators chose to release businessman Yorgen Fenech on police bail as they need more time to question him before pressing charges, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Friday morning.
The Prime Minister also dismissed concerns about him potentially having a conflict of interest in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case, telling journalists: "I do not shelter anyone".
Mr Fenech, who has been identified as a “person of interest” in the murder case of Ms Caruana Galizia, was released on police bail on Thursday evening.
On Friday, Dr Muscat said investigators had decided to release Mr Fenech on bail rather than charging him because they had more questions to ask.
“Once police prosecute someone, they do not have the right to further question him,” Dr Muscat said.
This was not the police's preferred course of action, the Prime Minister said.
"They would have rather sorted out the middleman's case first. But they took precautionary action on Wednesday morning.
“Investigators are not heroes one minute and donkeys the next. They know what they’re doing.”
Mr Fenech was arrested early on Wednesday morning shortly after he left the Portomaso marina aboard his yacht. The arrest came 24 hours after Dr Muscat said he was willing to offer a suspected middleman immunity from prosecution in exchange for information.
'I do not shelter anyone'
Dr Muscat dismissed concerns about his active role in the ongoing investigation and said it was too early to discuss an eventual pardon for Mr Fenech in exchange for futher information.
“I do not shelter anyone,” the Prime Minister said when asked what would happen if the businessman tied any politician to the crime.
"I am speaking as Prime Minister. This is a case of major importance and the police are constrained in what they can say. I do not want to burden them," he said.
He said he did not know where Mr Fenech was being held.
'Middleman's condition 'not serious'
Dr Muscat said he had been informed that the suspected middleman in the case, taxi driver Melvin Theuma, had admitted himself to hospital on Friday morning, but said the issue did not appear to be alarming.
"I’m not – I shouldn’t be privy to the condition of any particular patient. But I do not believe it is major," he said.
More to follow
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us