To no one's surprise, he denied everything. Yorgen Fenech, a prominent Maltese businessman, pleaded not guilty Saturday to paying for the car-bomb murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, the New York Times reports. Fenech, 38, seemed impassive in a gray business suit as he heard the charges: complicity in murder, participating in a criminal organization, and complicity in causing an explosion. Members of Galizia's family sat just a few feet away in the Valletta courtroom. Galizia was a fervent government critic who exposed Maltese corruption and linked the Panama Papers to top politicians. In 2017, the 53-year-old got in her car and was blown to pieces.
Fenech, caught trying to flee the country last week, offered police dirt on two politicians—the prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and his chief of staff, Keith Schembri—if Fenech could walk, but prosecutors chose to throw the book at him. He is accused of paying roughly $500,000 to have three men murder the crusading journalist. Schembri was also arrested and stepped down this week. The Guardian reports that Galizia's family made a statement outside the courtroom, saying "we now expect the prime minister to leave office, and parliament, with immediate effect to allow a free and full investigation into his and Keith Schembri’s role in Daphne's assassination." No evidence has yet appeared linking Muscat to the killing. (See how Galizia's case is apparently linked to "government trolls.")