Prime Minister Robert Abela on Tuesday evening hailed the latest developments in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case as evidence that the country's institutions are strong and work effectively.
"This is a country where the rule of law really prevails," he told a press conference at Castille.
Earlier on Tuesday one of the men accused of the murder, Vince Muscat, admitted his involvement and was jailed for 15 years after a plea bargain. Muscat also benefited from a presidential pardon for information into the murder, six years ago, of lawyer Carmel Chircop.
Today's developments confirm one thing. Had our institutions not been hijacked by those seeking to protect themselves, Daphne Caruana Galizia would still be alive.— Bernard Grech (@bernardgrechmt) February 23, 2021
We have gotten to this point thanks to the perseverance of those who persisted in pursuing justice no matter what.
As Muscat made his guilty plea, the police arrested three men suspected of having provided the bomb which killed Caruana Galizia in October 2017.
Follow the press conference below.
Abela said the government had provided the support, and made the necessary reforms, for the institutions to work and give results. The fact that a person had pleaded guilty and was jailed was another step for justice to be served for Caruana Galizia and to establish the truth in this sad chapter for Malta.
Now that Vince Muscat had pleaded guilty he could give evidence in the case, Abela pointed out.
He confirmed that the Cabinet on Monday upheld a recommendation by the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner for a pardon to be granted to Muscat for information on the 2015 murder of lawyer Chircop. The president signed the pardon on Tuesday.
The conditions of the pardon are that Muscat gives all information he knows and to return money given to him in connection with the Carmel Chircop murder. The terms of the pardon will be published.
The prime minister said he had since been informed by the police that a number of persons had been arrested in connection with the murder.
The police have also intensified investigations into the Caruana Galizia case.
Investigations so far do not show anyone who was involved in politics to be involved in the murder, Abela said when questioned.
Asked whether he had recused himself from the cabinet deliberations given he had previously represented the Agius brothers in court, Abela said he had stuck by his duty and presided over the meeting. The brothers were among the three men arrested earlier on Tuesday on suspicion of having supplied the bomb which killed Caruana Galizia.
Abela said he did not see a conflict of interest and he would not abdicate his responsibiilties. If anything, this case showed he did not 'look at faces'.