Judge highlights unique nature and complexity of Yorgen Fenech case in ruling denying bail

The criminal court rejected yet another bail request filed by murder suspect Yorgen Fenech, stressing that the case could not be treated “like other cases”.

In a decision issued on Friday morning, Judge Edwina Grima observed that there had been no change in the circumstances surrounding the case that could warrant a change of position.

“This case cannot be treated like other murder cases due to its wide ramifications, complex investigation and several forensic inquiries that remain unresolved. It is true that the accused, who is presumed innocent until proven guilty, is in preventive detention, but this decision is not arbitrary, ”said the criminal court.

Fenech, charged and awaiting trial for complicity in the 2017 murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, has been in pre-trial detention since his arrest in November 2019. He was arrested on his yacht as he left Malta for what it claimed to be a scheduled interview. . WhatsApp conversations between Fenech and his uncle, which were exhibited in court, revealed that the businessman had discussed the possibility of leaving the country.

In an executive order issued on Friday, the criminal court observed that the attorney general was correct in pointing out that he could not reassess and revise a previous executive order issued by that same court, in which bail had been refused.

The defense had advanced examples of other murder suspects who had been released on bail, but Judge Grima reiterated that the court could not accept those arguments, pointing out that the implications of this case were different and stating that her court was required to consider the particular circumstances surrounding the case separately when deciding on bail.

The criminal court also noted that the fears raised by the prosecution were not illusory, recalling that it had not had the peace of mind required to grant Fenech bail.

The evidence showed that not only did Fenech attempt to flee when he realized his arrest was near, but also that he had the means to flee with the help of his family and friends. loved ones, as well as their financial support.

These fears were supported by the evidence presented before the first chamber of the civil court of its constitutional jurisdiction, which was also entered into the file of the criminal case.

“There is also evidence that shows that at the time of the arrest there were people close to him who were prepared to obstruct justice,” the judge said, also noting that to date, Fenech had offered no guarantees that could convince the court otherwise. .

Another factor in the criminal court’s decision was the ongoing investigation into the murder, which was still active, resulting in parallel inquiries and several ongoing judicial inquiries.

The judge explained that when deciding on bail, the court must have all the guarantees provided for by the Penal Code, in particular those relating to the administration of justice.

“All the more so in the unique circumstances of this case where a journalist was murdered, the serious repercussions of which are felt both nationally and internationally as has already been underlined by the Court of Appeal and the Court constitutional.”

Sharon D. Cole