Murder suspect Yorgen Fenech was arraigned on Thursday and charged with an attempt to import weapons from the dark web.

Fenech was earlier interrogated over his attempts to purchase weapons, ammunition, and poison through the use of cryptocurrency Bitcoin, following the conclusion of a months-long investigation.

Fenech led away

5.37pm The sitting is over and the case will be assigned to another magistrate as per procedure.

Fenech is led away back to prison, where he has been held in custody since his arrest in November 2019 over the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Weapons purchase in breach of laws

5.35pm Fenech is charged that on November 25, 2018 and in the preceding days and weeks, he allegedly purchased weapons and ammunition in breach of weapons’ laws.

He did so without the necessary license from the police commissioner, the prosecution says.

Peter Caruana Galizia and his son Matthew walked into court as the arraignment was under way.

Why the rush?

5.30pm Defence lawyer Charles Mercieca says the arrest is not being contested but he asks why all the "panic" now?

"Yorgen Fenech is under arrest and the facts have been known."

Lawyer Marion Camilleri says mobile chats have long been in the police's possession. 

But the police rebut the accusation, saying Fenech had purchased the weapons on the dark web and investigations were still ongoing but the police could prosecute on the strength of information they received yesterday.

Fenech pleads not guilty to the charges.

We're off

5.25pm Yorgen Fenech is at the accused's stand for his case to start in front of magistrate Gabriella Vella. Contrary to other cases featuring Fenech, there are no relatives present in the court room. 

Inspectors Omar Zammit and Geoffrey Cutajar are handling the prosecution.

What do we know?

5.20pm Fenech was interrogated earlier on Thursday by police over the attempted weapons importation. 

It is understood that police have evidence that Fenech not only inquired about buying weapons from black market arms dealers but also paid for them using cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

There is no evidence the weapons, which included a Glock pistol and silencer, two Scorpion automatic assault rifles, some 800 rounds of ammunition, and two grenades, ever made it to Malta.

In another, separate purchase, Fenech received an email assuring him that a 20-gram shipment of potassium cyanide – a chemical that releases a highly toxic gas – had been shipped to him that morning, the court heard recently.

The purchases were made in November 2018 – the same month that Times of Malta and Reuters revealed that Fenech was the owner of secret offshore company 17 Black.

Times of Malta first reported in September 2020 that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation had flagged online searches by Fenech for poison, only a few months before he was arrested for complicity in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

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