The Malta Independent 30 September 2022, Friday
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Alleged fuel smuggler wants police to investigate rumour linking him to Caruana Galizia murder

Thursday, 11 August 2022, 14:02 Last update: about 3 months ago

Alleged fuel smuggler Gordon Debono has requested an urgent police investigation aimed at identifying the government-based source of rumours which had falsely connected him to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The request cites the conclusions of the public inquiry into Caruana Galizia’s killing, which amongst other things, had declared that the State was responsible for spreading these rumours.

In a criminal complaint dated Tuesday, Debono, currently on bail over money laundering charges in connection with alleged fuel smuggling, formally asked the Commissioner of Police to launch an investigation into the source of the rumours, “and beyond that the persons who were responsible for spreading [them], including those who were or still are occupying prominent positions with the government.

Obviously, today it is crystal clear that this had been nothing but an action to exculpate or hide the persons who are really responsible or who had an interest in this case, the names of some of whom are now public.”

Debono quoted an excerpt from the acts of the inquiry in his letter. “The Board is informed that this is what happened after the assassination, when the Office of the Prime Minister disseminated the possibility that the individuals behind the murder could be persons connected to fuel smuggling. News which also began to be spread in the international press,” the report had said.

Debono had previously been reported by MaltaToday as having had a direct hand in an operation which smuggled contraband oil from sanction-hit Libya to Italy using Debono’s fishing fleet between 2014 and 2015. In 2020, Debono and his wife, Yvette, were charged with money laundering, with these proceedings having reached an advanced stage, currently stalled as the court awaits letters rogatory from jurisdictions overseas.

However, Debono’s letter pointed out, neither the amount allegedly laundered, nor the predicate offence (the crime whose proceeds required laundering) had yet been identified, two full years after the start of the proceedings. “This situation creates ambiguity and raises serious doubts as to whether my arrest was premeditated or vitiated in any way, by persons with connections to politicians, past and present, as well as with close ties to the police force, in order to obstruct justice.”

Ending with a reminder that “justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done,” Debono’s letter asks the Commissioner of Police to investigate the matter urgently and take action against whoever was involved in the actions, “due to personal motives or beyond that extraneous ones based on claims with no basis in fact.”

Lawyer Roberto Montalto is assisting Debono.

One of Daphne’s sons – Paul Caruana Galizia, himself also a journalist – had told the public inquiry that then OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri had fed the fuel smuggling information to the media, even though he was privy to the investigations and knew that there was no such connections.

Daphne’s sister, Corinne Vella, also testified before the public inquiry that the fuel smuggling connection was a false trail planted to lead journalists investigating the murder and Daphne’s other stories astray.

"Daphne was not investigating fuel smuggling. She told me very clearly that she was not," Vella said.

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