Former prime minister Joseph Muscat has denied ever briefing murder suspect Yorgen Fenech about the 2017 early election, saying it appeared he knew about the date before it had even been set.
On Wednesday, the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry was told Fenech knew by December 2016 that a general election would be held in June the following year.
Inspector Kurt Zahra told the inquiry that Fenech knew about the June 2017 election date months in advance, confirming something he had first mentioned on Monday while testifying in the compilation of evidence against Fenech.
SIM cards which would eventually be used by the alleged hitmen to carry out the murder were purchased around that period, the inquiry heard.
The 2017 general election was announced by then-prime minister Joseph Muscat during a May Day rally in Valletta, held just one month before the June 3 vote.
Asked about this as he left parliament on Wednesday, Muscat told Times of Malta a date had not been set by December 2016.
“According to what is being reported it would appear Yorgen Fenech knew about the general election before I did. Because while a prime minister will have different eventualities in mind for whatever might crop up, there certainly wasn’t any decision about a general election or a date for a general election around the time that is being reported,” he said.
The matter was raised in parliament on Wednesday by Nationalist MP, and Caruana Galizia family lawyer, Jason Azzopardi, who implied that Muscat had called the early election because he knew about the murder plot.
Muscat reacted by calling on the Speaker to issue a ruling on Azzopardi’s remarks.
‘I wish I could turn back time’
Meanwhile, Muscat also said that he wished he could turn back the clock to save Caruana Galizia’s life, but questioned whether sacking Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri would have stopped her killing.
He was asked whether he concedes that had he ousted Mizzi and Schembri back when the Panama Papers first broke in 2016, the journalist who had been reporting on the fall-out from the offshore leak could very well be alive today.
Muscat said he wished that he could take any sort of decision that would prevent Caruana Galizia from being killed.
He added, however, that it was not a matter of taking action against Mizzi or Schembri.
“If there was something I could have done to avoid the death of a person, I would certainly have done it. Even if it would have meant me suffering personally,” he said.
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