A Maltese businessman is to stand trial over accusations he ordered and paid for the killing of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for Yorgen Fenech, who faces charges of accessory to murder and criminal association.
The killing of Caruana Galizia in a car bomb rocked the Mediterranean island and sent shockwaves across the European Union.
Fenech, formally charged on Wednesday by Malta’s Attorney General, was first arrested over the murder in November 2019. The tycoon — who is the alleged mastermind behind the assassination — has denied the charges.
One man has already been sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to murdering Caruana Galizia. Two other suspected hitmen have been charged with planting the bomb and are awaiting trial.
Another suspect, the alleged “middleman”, has agreed to reveal details of the plot to kill the investigative journalist and was granted a pardon.
An independent inquiry last month found that Malta’s government must “bear responsibility” for her death, even if it did not play a direct role.
The probe said that Maltese authorities had created a “culture of impunity” that led to her killing and had failed to protect Caruana Galizia.
Malta’s former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat resigned in January 2020 following Fenech’s arrest and widespread protests but was never accused of any wrongdoing.
Fenech has himself blamed Malta’s government for the murder, and also alleged that Maltese authorities had violated his rights by keeping him in pre-trial detention in poor conditions.
However, the European Court of Human Rights has dismissed the complaint and says the claims were “manifestly ill-founded”.
The International Press Institute said Wednesday’s indictment was “a significant step in the fight to prevent impunity for Caruana Galizia’s murder”. No trial date has yet been set.