Prime Minister Joseph Muscat last night spoke in Parliament about his history with the assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
In a speech originally scheduled to be about the Budget, he spoke about how Caruana Galizia criticised him at every turn but he still felt a sense of compassion towards her and believed her murder was an attack on the freedom of speech.
“My family had gotten used to living under her scrutiny, we got used to living in the world she had created for us. We never showed up late to an event because it would be in her blog that evening. Whenever we ate at a restaurant we assumed people are taking pictures of us. People who wanted to speak to us in public have told me they couldn’t in case they ended up on the front-page of her blog,” he said.
“We’ve even had to sit down with our children and explain to them how come when they Google their names they find strangers attacking them online just because they are my children. And I know a lot of people went through the same thing as us. Yet, I am still in despair at what happened this week,” he continued.
Muscat pointed out he had actually spoken to Caruana Galizia four times in his life – and one of those times was when she had called him for his address so she could open a libel case against him.
He said when he first started his career as a reporter she did not take kindly to him. He also claimed he had “never once in 20 years spoken against her or tried to turn people against her, even when my family was hurt”.
His speech was met with constant interruptions from members of the Opposition, specifically Simon Busuttil, Marlene Farrugia and Godfrey Farrugia, repeatedly interrupting with calls of “hypocrisy” and “you are all complicit.” The Prime Minister wryly responded to these interruptions by saying “’we won’t be silenced’” is not relative.”
On Tuesday, Opposition Leader Adrian Delia used his speech to blame the current administration for being complicit in Caruana Galizia’s murder. Delia said the government’s weakening of institutions has led to an atmosphere that allowed for the murder of a journalist in this country.
His sentiments were similar to those made by Caruana Galizia’s family today in a statement calling for the Prime Minister’s resignation.
Muscat said Delia had “painted himself in the corner” with his fiery speech calling for the Prime Minister’s resignation the day before. He pointed out three major difficulties with his counterpart’s spirited defence of the slain journalist: what Delia himself had said about the journalist, what Delia’s people had said about her, and what she had said she knows about him.
“They said this is a political murder. And what if it isn’t? For us, a murder is a murder,” Muscat said, before reiterating that the head of the Opposition had a constitutional role and that was not worthy of this finger-pointing.
Muscat then turned to the Opposition’s attacks on the country’s institutions.
“We are seeing an unprecedented attack on the police corps, the same corps that in the last few months caught one of the largest hauls of drugs in Malta’s history, and solved one of the biggest robberies in Malta’s history. The police used to do their job, today they do their job, and they will continue to do their job. We are seeing attacks on the armed forces, even an attack on the attorney general,” whom he recalled was appointed under a Nationalist administration.
He ended his speech with a more conciliatory tone, saying: “We need to show people outside that while there are two sides who disagree, we can still work together on this.”
“Now isn’t the time to talk about the budget but the sadness, anger, and resolve that the Maltese people are feeling.” He said the government wanted to be the shoulder that everyone in Malta could rest on.