Three suspects were formally charged on Tuesday over the 2017 murder of Maltese anti-corruption journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio, as well as Vince Muscat, all in their fifties, were arrested in December 2017, nearly two months after the killing of Caruana Galizia, who was described as a “one-woman WikiLeaks” for her investigation into money-laundering and corruption in the Mediterranean island nation of Malta.
The trio is accused of having planted and set off a bomb that exploded in Caruana Galizia’s car near the Maltese capital, Valletta on October 16, 2017.
The suspects have pleaded not guilty during pre-trial proceedings known as the compilation of evidence, held before a magistrate.
Evidence presented in court by prosecutors over the last two years has suggested that Caruana Galizia, 53, was blown up by a bomb activated by a mobile phone.
The justice ministry’s confirmation of the charges, which allows a trial to be held, came on Tuesday just days before a 20-month deadline.
The public prosecutor now has further 20 months to set a date for the trial, which legal experts say may not take place for years.
Late last week the government of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, at the recommendation of the Council of Europe, ordered a public inquiry into whether the October 16, 2017 attack could have been prevented.
Officers from the US Federal Bureau of Investigations and Europol have helped Malta police investigate the case.
After her death her sons demanded Muscat’s resignation, accusing him of surrounding himself with crooks, creating a culture of impunity and turning the tiny Mediterranean state into a “mafia island”.