One of three men accused of assassinating investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta in 2017 has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty.
Vincent Muscat admitted involvement in the car bombing that killed the reporter.
Muscat changed his plea on Tuesday in a dramatic turn of events and agreed to provide information about the murder.
Muscat, who is believed by police to have acted as a hitman in a contract to kill the journalist, is reported to have negotiated a more lenient sentence in exchange for supplying state prosecutors with information on others involved. He has also been granted a presidential pardon to help shed light on an entirely separate case – the 2015 murder of a lawyer, Carmel Chircop.
Following the sentencing on Tuesday, the journalist’s family said in a statement they hoped “this development will begin the road for total justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia”.
Her killing “destroyed her right to life and removed her right to enjoy her family and grandchildren who were born after her murder”, it added.
Vincent Muscat is the first person to be convicted of the killing, which has embroiled Malta’s ruling Labour party in political scandal and led to the resignation of its prime minister in late 2019.
The three men were charged with planning the assassination and triggering the bomb that killed Caruana Galizia near her home in October 2017. They were arrested in December the same year. The two other defendants, brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio,maintain their not guilty pleas.
Police also made three new arrests on suspicion of having supplied the bomb used to murder Caruana Galizia. A fourth person, Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech, has also been charged with complicity over the killing – an allegation he denies. He was arrested as he tried to sail away from Malta on a yacht in November 2019.
Caruana Galizia, who was 53 when she died, spent 30 years as a journalist and accused Maltese politicians and other officials of corruption in her Running Commentary blog.
Caruana Galizia triggered an early election in 2017 by publishing allegations linking the then-prime minister Joseph Muscat to the Panama Papers scandal. Mr Muscat, who is not related to Vincent Muscat, denied the corruption allegations. He later resigned as prime minister in December 2019.