Embattled Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has announced plans to resign in January after coming under enormous pressure for his handling of the political and legal debacle stemming from the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Vincent Muscat (no relation to the prime minister) wrote to Vella arguing that an earlier plea for mercy was not handled in a "proper, correct and just manner".
Protesters, opposition MPs, civil society groups and the journalist's family demanded that he step down immediately and vowed to keep up the pressure with demonstrations in the capital, Valletta. "There is no alternative explanation", the Caruana Galizia family said in a statement. "Justice can not be served with an illegitimate prime minister at the helm". But his refusal to go quickly has angered the Caruana Galizia family, who vowed to use all legal means to ensure he had no say over the murder investigation.
Evidence has emerged of the involvement of top government officials in the assassination.
It followed another night of protests in front of parliament on Monday night, where citizens were blocked off Freedom Square in front of the parliament building.
Speaking to a semi-empty house, Muscat appeared relaxed, joking at times as he justified the investigation, which he said was Malta's biggest ever.
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"His continued tenure as prime minister is intolerable to anyone who cares about justice".
The government has rejected his bid for a pardon.
Caruana Galizia, who became known for exposing cronyism and sleaze within the country's political and business elite, had alleged that Schembri and Mizzi were involved in corruption, claims both men have denied. Schembri was questioned for two days by police following his resignation before being released without charge.
The slain reporter had written extensively about suspected corruption in political and business circles on the European Union nation, an attractive financial haven for many investors.
Fenech, arrested as he tried to flee the island on his yacht, has claimed Muscat's former chief-of-staff Schembri was the "real mastermind" behind the killing, according to police sources. A leading investigative journalist, she was part of the team who published "The Panama Papers", a global investigation detailing the shadowy efforts of the super-wealthy to hide money and power from tax authorities and others.
"Look at this photo", Caruana Galizia's sister told the police, holding up a photo of the journalist brutally killed in a auto bomb on 16 October 2017.