Left: The Caruana Galizia brothers at their mother’s funeral (photo: Matthew Mirabelli/AFP); Right: Labour MP Robert Abela
One of the favourites to succeed Joseph Muscat as Prime Minister has accused the family of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia of intentionally putting spokes in the wheels of the murder investigation.
“If I was in their position, my main goal would be to find out who was behind my mother’s murder and see them brought to justice,” Labour MP Robert Abela said in Parliament last night. “Yet I am convinced that the family’s interest in seeing the case solved is superseded by their repugnance towards Malta. In fact, they believe that the release of the three suspects will land a harder political blow on the government.”
He also hit out at the Caruana Galizias for handing over the late journalist’s laptops to the German police instead of to the Maltese police or inquiring magistrate Anthony Vella.
“As an individual, I want to know who is responsible for the murder and whether the three accused are guilty,” he said. “The judicial process should be allowed to proceed smoothly and the family should give all the evidence in their possession to the prosecution or the inquiring magistrate and not to foreign authorities.”
Caruana Galizia’s son Matthew counter-argued that the family’s repugnance is not towards Malta but towards “an organised criminal gang, made up of corrupt individuals in and outside government, who’ve taken a mother away from her sons, a vital source of information away from her readers, and a state away from its nation”.
“Are you part of that gang, Robert Abela, or will you help us destroy it, so that we can find justice and create a new country?” he asked.
Abela’s fiery parliamentary speech was pre-empted by an accusation by Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi that he had access to data that the Malta Security Services had tapped from the phone of murder suspect George Degiorgio.
The Malta Security Services press release that Robert Abela referred to
Azzopardi’s suspicion was raised after Abela told a group of MEPs probing Malta’s rule of law that the tapped data from Degiorgio’s phone did not include any reference to his plot to murder Caruana Galizia.
“Abela’s statement means that he was either given classified information illegally or that he was bluffing and lying to the MEPs,” he said.
However, Abela yesterday insisted he was just referring to a press release issued by the Malta Security Services last month in which they categorically denied having any prior knowledge of a plan to murder Caruana Galizia.
“I cannot understand how my reference to the press release got twisted around into me having illegal access to highly sensitive data,” Abela said. “It is unbelievable that such speculative statements are being uttered by a MP who is also legally representing the Caruana Galizias [in the murder case]. Instead of helping out the prosecution, the Caruana Galizia family’s lawyers are somehow constantly undermining it.”
A MaltaToday survey in March indicated that Abela is the favourite to succeed Joseph Muscat, who has repeatedly pledged not to contest the next election. Labour MEP Miriam Dalli came in a close second, with ministers Chris Fearne and Ian Borg not far behind.