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Malta arrests man suspected of acting as go-between in journalist’s murder

VALLETTA (Reuters) – A man suspected of acting as a go-between in the contract killing of Malta’s most prominent anti-corruption journalist has been arrested, a police source said on Tuesday, a step the authorities hope will lead to the person who ordered the hit.

FILE PHOTO: A person holds a candle in front of a picture of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, during a vigil and protest on the second anniversary of assassination of the journalist in a car bomb, in Valletta, Malta October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo

Daphne Caruana Galizia, who wrote an anti-corruption blog, was killed by a car bomb as she drove out of her home near the Maltese capital Valletta in October 2017 – a murder that shocked Europe and raised questions about the rule of law on the Mediterranean island.

Three men suspected of being the killers were arrested in December, but the authorities have so far failed to determine who commissioned the murder.

A police source with direct knowledge of the matter said authorities had arrested a man on Thursday who is believed to have acted as the link between the suspected hired killers and the person who ordered the killing.

The Times of Malta reported that the government was considering a pardon for the suspected middleman if he can lead investigators to the mastermind.

The newspaper said experts from European police organization Europol had seized devices in the suspected middleman’s possession after receiving the go-ahead from a magistrate.

The government and police have made no immediate comment. On Sunday Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he wanted the whole truth about the murder to come out, even if it meant that the government had to take “difficult decisions”.

The Times of Malta said conditions of any pardon for the middleman were under discussion between the police, the attorney general and Muscat, and as of Monday night terms were still being ironed out.

Apart from the supposed middleman’s witness account, investigators are hoping Europol’s analysis of his devices will provide further evidence, it said.

The middleman has requested a full pardon for past crimes and told investigators he feared for his safety if he were sent to prison, the Times of Malta said.

Muscat also said on Sunday he had met the Caruana Galizia family and they had agreed on members of an independent inquiry into the murder and into whether the government could have prevented it.

The family had earlier objected to two of three members of the inquiry nominated by the prime minister. They have now agreed on the appointment of two independent judges and another who is still serving. Terms of reference have not been published yet.

Reporting by Stephen Grey and Christopher Scicluna; Editing by James Mackenzie, Crispian Balmer and Peter Graff

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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