Cardona denies involvement in Caruana Galizia’s assassination

Luke Zerafa

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

During an interview with the Times of Malta, disgraced former Economy Minister Chris Cardona once again denied being involved in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. He also dismissed that claim that his political career came to an abrupt end after his name cropped up in the murder investigation.

Last November, Cardona was taken in for questioning at the Police Headquarters, had revealed. He was questioned in connection to the murder as well as the reports by Daphne Caruana Galizia about his alleged visit to a brothel while on government business.

Cardona had subsequently suspended himself as Economy Minister after it transpired that he had been interrogated.

The disgraced former minister has since then resigned as member of parliament after he was not reappointed as Minister once Robert Abela replaced Joseph Muscat, who also had to step down over the investigation. Cardona however retained his post as Partit Laburista Deputy Leader.

During the interview, Cardona whose mobile number was the only one saved on a burner phone retrieved from the sea near the Marsa potato shed, denied his involvement in the murder. Brothers Degiorgio, two of the three alleged hitmen used to meet at the potato shed. Former disgraced OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri had allegedly sent a letter to Yorgen Fenech through their mutual doctor with instructions to pin the assassination of Caruana Galizia on Cardona. Cardona had claimed that it was a frame up.

According to Cardona, there was no evidence against him, just allegations. He insisted that his mobile number was not on the burner phone, remarking that otherwise the police would have questioned him about it. He said that he understood while the police had called him in for questioning, claiming that had he been investigating the case, he would have questioned himself. He added that had his number been found on the burner phone this would have reflected badly on him, as he continued denying that this was the case.

“Melvin Theuma needs to tell to be very careful”

Cardona said that he knew the Degiorgio brothers because of his profession but denied every meeting them in a social setting. During the interview, the former minister warned the state witness and go in between Fenech and the hitmen that he needs to be very careful on what he says in court under oath. Theuma who was granted presidential pardon in return for information, could have his protection from prosecution removed if he was caught lying.

During the last sitting the court heard that Tony known as “il-Bigli” was tasked with delivering money from Cardona to the three suspected hitmen. The former minister denied the statement saying that he knew Tony when he was a police officer and had met him at court. Cardona claimed that this was a plot aimed at pinning the assassination on him. He remarked that it was easier to pin the murder on someone who was completely extraneous to the matter. Asked for who did he suspect was behind the “frame up”, Cardona failed to mention any names.

I don’t think Schembri could arrive at that”

Partit Laburista’s deputy leader said that he did not believe that Keith Schembri could arrive to the point of attempting to frame him up. He did say that they did discuss Caruana Galizia a number of times since she was one of the most vociferous government opponents.

Cardona also mentioned the late night Cabinet meeting when the letter in which he was mentioned in connection to the murder had cropped up during the discussions for Fenech’s amnesty.

‘Daphne Caruana Galizia was a pillar of democracy’

Asked about Caruana Galizia, Cardona said that she was not a thorn in his side but a pillar of democracy.

Cardona insisted that he had retired from Parliament to spend more time with his family. He maintained that he had reached his peak under Muscat’s leadership and his sell-by date had come. He argued that his career had come to an end when Muscat’s ended.

Cardona also mentioned that he had been friends with former police inspector now lawyer David Gatt since their childhood.

Abela held hostage by Cardona and Schembri – PN

Prime Minister Robert Abela has allowed for him to be controlled by Cardona and Schembri, Partit Nazzjonalista said in a statement on Friday.

The Opposition remarked that Abela was being held hostage by the former disgraced minister and the former OPM chief of staff. Referring to the various media statements made by Cardona over the past days, PN said that from the statements it had transpired that Cardona and Schembri were on one hand protecting one another and on the other controlling Abela.

Opposition spokesperson for good governance, Karol Aquilina, noted that Cardona admitted that had he been the inquiring magistrate in the case he would have interrogated himself.

The PN asked which prime minister would keep a deputy leader of his party who was being implicated in the assassination of a journalist. It asked why the prime minister was silent on why Cardona and Schembri have not been arrested and why they were protecting each other. Other questions included what was the reason behind Cardona’s resignation, whether the Cabinet was still convinced that Cardona had been framed up and by who.