Former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri on Monday confirmed he was aware of a massive data leak from the Electrogas power station, months before journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination in October 2017. 

Caruana Galizia was poring over the Electrogas data trove, which included e-mails and unpublished contracts from the controversial power station deal, before she was killed her outside her Bidnija home.

Electrogas said in a statement published in September that they only found out about the leak in December 2017.

In the final minutes of his six-and-a-half hour testimony, Schembri acknowledged finding out about the leak during the campaign leading up to the June 2017 election. 

In its September statement, Electrogas Malta said it had discovered a breach to its IT systems in late December 2017, and "subsequently reported the criminal offence to the police".

As part of the data breach, a targeted search of Electrogas e-mails was carried out for any references to, among other keywords, 17 Black, the company owned by former Electrogas director and murder suspect Yorgen Fenech. 

The slain journalist had written a couple of stories about the power station during that period, but never acknowledged or publicly hinted she possessed these documents. 

According to self-confessed murder middleman Melvin Theuma, Fenech grew increasingly insistent throughout the summer of 2017 that the plot should be hurried along as the journalist was going to release certain information. 

Theuma claims the plot was put on hold because of the election campaign, but said in court that a “drunk” Fenech phoned him after Labour’s massive win to give him to go-ahead to proceed with the assassination. 

Fenech denies ever giving such an order. 

Decision to go for early election

Caruana Galizia made the first public reference to 17 Black in February 2017. 
Questioned by parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi, Schembri told the public inquiry that the decision to go for an early election was taken in February or March 2017. 

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has in the past said it was the Egrant allegation, published by Caruana Galizia in April 2017, that triggered the early election. 

Investigators have been exploring the journalist’s writings about 17 Black as well as Electrogas as potential motives behind the murder. 

Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa told the public inquiry last month that the motive behind the murder had yet to be established.

Schembri was questioned in connection with the murder in November 2019, after Fenech claimed it was he who ordered the killing. 

The former chief of staff denies any involvement in the assassination. 

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