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Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is shown, April 4, 2016. (AP / Jon Borg)

Maltese prosecutors on Saturday charged a prominent local businessman as being an accomplice to the murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in a 2017 car bombing on Malta.

Yorgen Fenech, a Maltese hotelier and director of the Maltese power company, was also charged in the evening courtroom hearing with being an accomplice to causing the explosion that killed the 53-year-old reporter as she drove near her home.

Magistrate Audrey Demicoli asked Fenech to enter pleas. He replied that he was pleading innocent, and he was remanded in custody.

The reporter's family has alleged that Fenech has ties to close associates of the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, including his recently resigned chief of staff.

It wasn't immediately clear if Muscat might resign amid increasing calls by citizens on the island, including Caruana Galizia's family, for him to step down. Muscat, in power since 2013, has said he will speak after the investigative case is complete.

"What we now expect is the prime minister to leave office and to leave Parliament," Corinne Vella, one of the slain reporter's sisters, told The Malta Independent after the arraignment of Fenech.

Vella also called for Muscat as well as his former chief of staff, Keith Schembri. to be "properly investigated" for their "possible involvement in Daphne's assassination."

Schembri quit his government post a few days earlier. He had been taken into custody for questioning but later released.

Two of Muscat's ministers also were questioned and have resigned. They, along with Schembri, have said they are innocent of wrongdoing.

Caruana Galizia wrote shortly before her death that corruption was everywhere in political and business circles in the tiny EU nation.

An alleged go-between in the bombing has received immunity from prosecution for alerting authorities to Fenech's purported involvement.

Three men have been in jail as the alleged bombers, but no trial date for them has been set.