The Malta Independent 13 December 2019, Friday

Yorgen Fenech wants courts to nullify Cabinet rejection of presidential pardon request

Neil Camilleri Sunday, 1 December 2019, 14:39 Last update: about 11 days ago

Yorgen Fenech has called on the courts to declare a decision by Cabinet to reject his presidential pardon request as illegal.

He filed the application against the Attorney General, the Prime Minister,  the Deputy Prime Minister, ministers Evarist Bartolo, Jose Herrera, Michael Falzon, Edward Scicluna, Carmelo Abela, Justyne Caruana, Michael Farrugia, Owen Bonnici, Edward Zammit Lewis, Joe Mizzi and Ian Borg, and the Police Commissioner.

The application was filed on Friday by Fenech’s lawyers, Marion Camilleri and Gianluca Caruana Curran.

On Thursday night, Cabinet rejected Fenech’s second pardon request after being briefed by the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner about the criminal investigation. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he had taken a step back and let cabinet decide on the request. He had previously turned down Fenech’s first request for a presidential pardon.

The 17 Black owned, who on Saturday pleaded not guilty to financing and organizing the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, has now asked President George Vella to accept his pardon request, bypassing cabinet. Fenech’s lawyers say cabinet should not decide on a pardon request filed by someone who wants to spill the beans on government members.

According to reports, Schembri had told Fenech to pin the murder on Cardona. The now reinstated Economy Minister, fearing a frame up, asked Parliament to afford him protection. Speaker Anglu Farugia said the House rules do not provide for a remedy on matters that do not happen inside the chamber.

In his application, Fenech says he is willing to give information on Keith Schembri, former chief of staff to the Prime Minister – the same person who has to decide on his pardon request.

He argues that he has a right to a fair hearing and for his request to be treated in an objective manner, free from political interference. Fenech said he is concerned by the fact that it was cabinet that decided on a request that would directly affect the fate of Keith Schembri who, until a few days earlier, was a member of the same cabinet.

This meant that his right to a fair hearing was being breached. Fenech said he was forced to ask for a presidential pardon in return for information on a person that the person had spent years defending and who was, until recently, a member of cabinet.

He also said Schembri had tried, through third persons, to stop Fenech from testifying against him.

No amount of maneuvers, media stunts and political acrobatics will deflect from the fact that the cabinet appointed by Joseph Muscat decided on a pardon offered in return for information on his former chief of staff.

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