Police are considering whether there are grounds for a presidential pardon for one of the men suspected of murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia in a car bomb in 2017.

Two sources have confirmed that Vince Muscat’s request to walk free of all charges linked to the journalist’s murder and a bank heist is still under consideration, four months after a fresh request was made.

Muscat is awaiting trial along with brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio for their alleged role in carrying out the October 2017 killing.

In exchange for immunity, Muscat has claimed he can shed new light on the car bombing as well as other murders and robberies. He is also asking to walk free from charges for his alleged role in the 2010 HSBC heist that ended in a shootout with police.

The biggest challenge being faced by investigators is verifying the information Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, is offering, particularly because some of the cases date back years.

Ever since the request for a pardon was made to the president in December, investigators have sent for Muscat and spoken to him “a number of times”, the sources confirmed.

Also asking to walk free from charges for alleged role in the 2010 HSBC heist

One of the sources said the request seems to have “stalled” since then, contrasting the process with that of self-confessed murder middleman Melvin Theuma, who was granted a pardon within days of his arrest.

The source said prior to former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s resignation, cabinet had requested a report about Vince Muscat’s pardon request.

A second source said the key question still being established by the police was whether the information given was reliable and could help take the cases in question forward.

The request has yet to be formally presented by the police and Attorney General to Prime Minister Robert Abela.

Vince Muscat’s last attempt to gain immunity was turned down in April 2018.

The suspect’s lawyer had argued in his December request to the president that the information given by Muscat to the police in April 2018 about middleman Theuma had turned out to be “crucial” for progress to be made in solving the journalist’s murder.

Muscat’s wife Pauline had told Reuters that it was a “complete injustice” that Theuma was given a pardon when it was her husband who led police to him and helped solve the case.

Since his first pardon request, major questions have arisen about whether top officials could have played a role in ensuring it was never seriously considered.

According to secret recording and court testimony by Theuma, Yorgen Fenech, one of the suspected masterminds behind the murder, was receiving information about the pardon request from the former prime minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri.

Theuma has testified that Fenech claimed to also be receiving information about Muscat’s first pardon request from former police deputy commissioner Silvio Valletta.

When asked last October about Vince Muscat’s first bid for immunity, the former prime minister had said he was sceptical about the effectiveness of such pardons as in the past, they had only served to help “people walk free”.

A month later, Joseph Muscat bypassed cabinet to offer a pardon to Theuma, who has since turned into key witness in the case.

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