Feb 23, 2021
Murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana: one of the accused sentenced to 15 years in prison
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Journalist blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia, who denounced in her blog Running Commentary the endemic corruption in this Mediterranean archipelago, a former British colony that entered the European Union in 2004, perished in a car bomb attack on October 16, 2017. She was 53 years old.
Considered to be simple executors, three men with a heavy criminal record – brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio as well as Vincent Muscat – were arrested in December and charged on suspicion of having manufactured, planted and detonated the deadly bomb.
They have since pleaded not guilty. Until the rebound of Tuesday, occurred during a preliminary hearing to lead to a dismissal or their referral to a criminal court. While his alleged accomplices continue to proclaim their innocence, Vincent Muscat has turned around.
“Vincent Muscat, what do you plead to the charges?” Asked the clerk of the court in Valletta. “Guilty,” he replied.
“These are serious charges, murder, conspiracy, he risks life imprisonment,” Judge Edwina Grima told Marc Sant, Mr. Muscat’s lawyer, but the latter repeated that he was pleading guilty.
He was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison, a sentence in accordance with the indictment of the public prosecutor and relatively lenient under the Maltese penal code. The court took into account that the accused had waived his right to appeal against the judgment and had cooperated with the courts.
Ms. Grima said that the main person responsible for the investigation into the murder of the journalist, Inspector Keith Arnaud, had assured that Vincent Muscat had been collaborating with the police since 2018.
This sentence “represents one more step towards justice. One more step to establish the truth in this dark chapter for Malta and the family of Caruana Galizia”, assured the Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela in a statement in the evening.
The journalist’s family, disappointed by the verdict, nevertheless said they hoped that Mr. Muscat’s conviction “would pave the way for total justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia”.
The family’s lawyer, Jason Azzopardi, said his clients had agreed to the prosecution’s proposal for a 15-year prison sentence for Vincent Muscat.
A fourth man, businessman Yorgen Fenech, was arrested in 2019 on his yacht off Malta as he tried to flee.
A taxi driver suspected of having been an intermediary accuses him of having been the main instigator of the murder, but the hearings concerning him have not yet started.
It was by digging into the Maltese shutter of the resounding Panama Papers that Daphne Caruana Galizia uncovered the links between Mr Fenech and senior Maltese politicians.
She had notably revealed that a Dubai company, 17 Black, had paid two million euros to Keith Schembri, at the time the chief of staff of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (not related to Vincent Muscat), and Konrad Mizzi, Minister of Tourism. The quid pro quo for these alleged bribes is not known.
The Daphne Project journalist consortium, which has resumed its investigations, revealed that 17 Black was owned by Mr Fenech. And the head of government, accused of having interfered in the affair and of having protected his collaborators, his chief of staff as well as the Minister of Tourism have since resigned.
Yorgen Fenech was charged with complicity on Saturday.
He himself implicated several senior government officials, in particular Keith Schembri, naming him as the “real sponsor” of the assassination.
News Source: cvbj.biz
Minneapolis hiring social media influencers for George Floyd murder trial
Minneapolis officials will hire a team of social media influencers to send “approved messages” during the upcoming murder trial of ex-cop Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, according to reports.
The move is part of a $1 million plan approved by the Minneapolis City Council on Friday, as the Minnesota city braces for possible unrest in the controversial case.
“The goal is to increase access to information to communities that do not typically follow mainstream news sources or city communications channels and/or who do not consume information in English,” the council said in a statement, WCCO-TV reported.
“It’s also an opportunity to create more two-way communication between the city and communities.”
Chauvin, 44, is charged with murder in Floyd’s May 25 police-custody death after viral videos of the incident went public, showing the former cop kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he is handcuffed.
Jury selection in the case is scheduled to begin March 8, with opening arguments due to get underway no earlier than March 29.
There other ex-cops — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao — are due to stand trial separately on charges of aiding and abetting murder.
The case sparked global Black Lives Matter protests that in some cities sparked violent clashes with police — and Minneapolis officials now fear a resurgence of the unrest and are taking no chances.
The city has not identified the social influencers it hopes to hire, but said it is targeting social media users with large followings.
Some city activists weren’t thrilled with the council’s initiative.
“The key word here is ‘city approved,’” said community activist Toussaint Morrison, who has more than 11,000 Instagram, told WCCO.
“What do you think the message is going to be? It’s going to be pro-city. It’s going to be anti-protest.”