Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Sunday told the nation that he would resign next month, following pressure from angry citizens for the truth about the 2017 car bombing that killed a journalist pursuing corruption.
Muscat said in a televised message that he had informed Maltese President George Vella that he would quit as leader of the governing Labor Party on Jan. 12 and that “in the days after I will resign as prime minister.”
Hours earlier, nearly 20,000 Maltese protested outside a courthouse in the capital, Valletta, demanding that he step down in the largest such turnout of nearly daily protests in recent weeks.
“As prime minister, I promised two years ago that justice would be done in the case of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia,” Muscat said to open his speech, adding that “today I am here to tell you that I kept my word.”
However, the slain reporter’s family contends that Muscat’s departure would not satisfy those in the nation who are determined that corruption and cronyism between politicians and business figures be rooted out.
“People will be out in the streets again tomorrow,” tweeted one of her sons, Matthew Caruana Galizia, who is also a journalist.
“Justice is being done,” Muscat said, adding that besides three people being arrested soon after the bombing for carrying out the actual attack, now there is “someone accused of being the principal person behind this killing.”
Muscat was referring to prominent Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech, who on Saturday night was arraigned on charges of complicity in the killing, and of organizing and financing the bombing.
Fenech entered pleas of not guilty.
Muscat’s former chief of staff, Keith Schembri, was allegedly linked to the killing.
Schembri was among government members targeted by Caruana Galizia’s investigative reporting.
Schembri, who last week resigned, was arrested in the probe, but later released.
He denies any wrongdoing.
The slain reporter had written extensively about suspected corruption in political and business circles on the EU nation, an attractive financial haven for many investors.
Among her targets were those in Muscat’s political inner circle, including those in his Cabinet.
Caruana Galizia was the subject of lawsuits by some of her subjects, including in government. While many celebrated her as an anti-corruption champion, some in the country whose dealings she exposed scorned her work.
“I reiterate my deepest regret that a person, who, with all her positive and negative qualities and contribution toward the democracy of our country, was killed in such a brutal way,” Muscat said.
“The sensations of genuine sadness and anger for this murder are justified. And I will never accept that someone conveys a signal that in any way he or she is justifying this murder,” he added.
Muscat used his speech to praise his tenure’s achievements, including strong economic growth and civil rights, such as legalized marriage and adoption for same-sex couples.
Referring to the reporter’s slaying, Muscat said, “This case cannot define everything that our country is and what we have accomplished together.
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