A damning Council of Europe report into the murder investigation of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the state of the rule of law in Malta has brought an unsurprisingly defiant response from the government, who criticised “numerous inaccuracies” and the now-typical “opposition” influence in their dissenting opinion of the document.
“Basic fairness has been disregarded,” MP Manuel Mallia wrote,” the Rapporteur’s [Pieter Omzigt] close contact with certain Maltese opposition politicians raises serious concerns about his loss of objectivity.”
The government has regularly blamed the PN for the many critical reports on Malta’s state institutions, giving off the impression that the party that is struggling domestically somehow has a deep stranglehold over Europe.
Even should Mallia’s belief be proved correct, it fails to acknowledge that 72 European MPs voted in favour of the report while just 18 voted against and three abstained.
Mallia himself was revealed to have been seeking to rally Maltese individuals to lobby against the approval of the report within the Council of Europe.
The report itself called for the government to establish a public inquiry into the assassination within three months, and for Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to refrain from appointing more members to the judiciary before fully implementing Venice Commission recommendations.
It also claimed that his Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna have enjoyed total impunity under his “personal protection”.
In the government’s dissenting opinion, the issue surrounding a public inquiry was also taken to task.
Mallia argued that the report’s author reached conclusions “without a full understanding of the progress and conduct of the ongoing criminal investigations”, adding that questions were never addressed to the inquiring Magistrate, despite the Attorney General request to do so.
“The Rapporteur’s heavy reliance instead on newspaper reporting of allegations made by unidentified sources is of particular concern,” Mallia wrote.
He also repeated the government’s oft-quoted stance that a public inquiry should not take place at the same time as the on-going criminal inquiry.
“The effectiveness of those criminal proceedings should not be jeopardised by parallel action.”
The report, Mallia said, also exceeds the rapporteur’s remit, adding that it draws wide-ranging conclusions about Malta’s constitutional structures.