Prime Minister Joseph Muscat launched an aggressive counterattack against the author of a draft report claiming 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”.
“We now have a totally biased draft report by a Dutch MP that will be presented to the Council of Europe,” Muscat said during last night’s debate with PN Leader Adrian Delia. “Just Google search his name [Pieter Omtzigt]. This MP had tried to say that victims of the MH17 passenger aircraft shot down by a Russian missile over Ukraine (17 July 2014) were actually shot down the Ukrainians. He eventually had to admit this was fake news.”
The draft Council of Europe report on the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia flagged “serious concerns” over the investigation into the murder, namely with the conflict of interest of magistrates and police officers, the continuing compilation of evidence against the three men charged with the murder, and the lack of progress in finding the mastermind behind the assassination.
“No one has been arrested for ordering the assassination. A magisterial inquiry is still ongoing, with no news on its progress”, the report states
It has been reported that the custody limit of the three men expires in two months.
The failure to interrogate Economy Minister Chris Cardona over links with possible suspects and the possibility that the Maltese security services may have had prior intelligence about the bomb plot are also areas of concern.
The draft report also extended to the state of the rule of law in the country.
“Despite certain recent steps, Malta still needs fundamental, holistic reform, including subjecting the office of Prime Minister to effective checks and balances, ensuring judicial independence and strengthening law enforcement and the other rule of law bodies,” the report allegedly reads.
This, the report warns, may be a weakness to other member EU states.
“Maltese citizenship is European Union citizenship, a Maltese visa is a Schengen visa, and a Maltese bank gives access to the European banking system.”
Muscat seems to disagree with the report’s assessment, explaining that the “Venice Commission did criticise our systems, but most of these have been in place since independence. The commission did not criticise one law this government introduced”.
Speaking to The Malta Independent, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici echoed Muscat, saying that the government would be challenging “serious inaccuracies” in the report. He also said that Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt was simply being partisan, as he formed part of European People’s Party, the PN’s political grouping.
The report allegedly presents a grim picture on the current state of affairs, noting that there exists “compelling evidence” to assume that Mizzi and Schembri “are involved in several serious cases of abuse of office, corruption and money laundering”.
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