During the last, very dramatic, couple of days the heat has turned from Chris Cardona to Keith Schembri. Newsbook.com.mt documents briefly how the country has reached this state of high drama.
Cardona feels threatened
“Self-suspended” Chris Cardona publicly said that he feels threatened. He asked for the Speaker of the House to give him protection.
This protection, he was informed, could not be given.
His fear is based on the allegation that Keith Schembri instructed Yorgen Fenech to pin on him the blame for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Although Keith Schembri denied that he has ever given any such instruction, no statement – up to now – has been coming from Cardona that his mind is now at peace.
These allegations were loudly reflected and given credence during last Thursday’s stormy session of Cabinet. Ministers expressed shock and disgust.
Cardona questioned; probably cautioned
The focus at the beginning was on Cardona. Cardona was called in for questioning a few hours after the attempted escape of Yorgen Fenech who now stands accused of complicity in the murder of complicity in her murder.
Newsbook.com.mt was the first portal to announce that around noon on November 23rd, Cardona was at the Police HQ. His questioning focused among other things, on whether he was involved in the assassination of the journalist.
Sometime later, the then minister issued a statement confirming that he had been questioned but making light of the matter.
Newsbook.com.mt later revealed that he had been cautioned by the police. The next day, 24th November three members of his secretariat were called in for questioning. Unconfirmed reports stated that one of them was taken in under police escort.
Fenech mentions Schembri to the police
Well informed sources told Newsbook.com.mt that Yorgen Fenech started spilling beans. He mentioned more than one very highly placed person in politics. After Cardona, it seems that Keith Schembri, Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister was next on Fenech’s hit list.
In the afternoon of the 26th November Cardona announced his self-suspension from the cabinet while his colleague Konrad Mizzi resigned outright from his ministerial post.
Keith’s involvement with Yorgen
Meanwhile, the friend and confidant of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat Keith Schembri, also named in the Yorgen Revelations, resigned in the morning of the 26th November. Muscat made the announcement of his resignation, not dismissal while thanking his for his work. himself to select media, and the media started a stakeout in front of the Police HQ waiting for Schembri to appear. The elusive former chief aide, however, seems to have been spirited in for questioning as the media caught neither hide nor hair of him.
Schembri’s involvement with Fenech seemed to be solid. Fenech’s last call before attempting to flee Malta was to Schembri.
The police spent two days questioning Schembri who ultimately walked out free. A very short police statement said that after intensive investigations the police do not feel the need to keep Schembri under arrest.
Keep me out of it – Schembri to Fenech
Yorgen Fenech, meanwhile, was in Mater Dei with chest pains. He was in the hospital after his doctor was called in and the precautionary approach was adopted. Clamorous developments followed as the police then arrested Dr Adrian Vella, Fenech and Schembri’s doctor for acting as a go-between and obstructing justice. In the brief medical interlude, Schembri passed on to Fenech the message: Keep me out of it and I will help you.
On the 29th November, more details of this cryptic exchange emerged as informed sources told Newsbook.com.mt that at a certain point in the communication between the former Chief of Staff at OPM Keith Schembri and tycoon Yorgen Fenech, Schembri said: “It’s ok if you mention Cardona, just keep me out of it”. Meanwhile, Keith Schembri told Times of Malta he would never do anything to implicate any colleagues in wrongdoing, on the contrary, he has always protected them.
The stormy Cabinet meeting
A day later, an urgent late-night cabinet meeting was called. In the meeting which lasted till the wee hours of the following morning, and in which the absolute majority advised Muscat to resign. The Sunday Times of Malta reported that Keith Schembri and Yorgen Fenech were feared to have plotted to “frame” Economy Minister Chris Cardona for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. These fears were raised during the same tense late-night Cabinet meeting on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Cardona, who has been reinstated as a minister and Deputy Leader of the PL, is also facing an inquiry on the hospitals Vitals deal (VGH).