March 9. 2021. 1:05

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Three held in Malta on suspicion of supplying bomb that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia

Image of a protest in November 2019 called by Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family outside the office of the prime minister in Valletta, Malta. File photograph: Stringer/AFP via Getty Images


Three men suspected of having supplied the bomb which killed Maltese anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017 were arrested on Tuesday, police in Malta said.

Their arrest came as a man accused of carrying out the killing agreed to a plea deal, accepting his responsibility for the assassination in return for a reduced, 15-year jail term instead of possible life behind bars.

A legal source said the man who agreed to the plea deal, Vince Muscat, had provided police with vital information about the case, which has shone a spotlight on corruption in the EU’s smallest country.

Mr Muscat and two other men were arrested in December 2017 and accused of having planned and executed the murder. Mr Muscat’s alleged accomplices continue to plea not guilty.

The three men seized on Tuesday were named as Jamie Vella and brothers Adrian and Robert Agius. They and their lawyers were not immediately available for comment.

A legal source said the three men were suspected of having provided the bomb and the SMS code needed to trigger it.

Detonated remotely

Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb in October 2017. Police say the device was detonated remotely by Mr Muscat and accomplices as they watched her drive away from her house.

Multimillionaire businessman Yorgen Fenech, who had high-level political connections, is suspected of having masterminded the crime and has been accused of being an accomplice to murder. He has denied wrongdoing.

The self-confessed middleman in the plot, Melvin Theuma, turned state witness in 2019 in return for a pardon.

Mr Muscat’s request for a similar deal was denied last month. Instead, he accepted the plea deal, offering information about the Caruana Galizia case and about the unsolved 2015 murder of a local lawyer, which was not believed to be connected.

Mr Muscat is not related to Joseph Muscat, the former prime minister of Malta who was in office when Caruana Galizia was killed, and who resigned in December 2019 to “shoulder political responsibility” following the killing. Mr Fenech was close friends with the former premier’s chief of staff Keith Schembri, who has denied any wrongdoing and any knowledge of the murder or its perpetrators. – Reuters