WATCH: Gozo Minister Emotionally Walks Out Of Parliament Ahead Of Daphne Caruana Galizia Motion
'I want to assure my children that their father and I did nothing to be ashamed of'
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article accidentally included a line attributed to Marlene Mizzi that was meant to be included in the article not in her quote.
The Gozo Minister absented herself from parliament yesterday in an emotional moment that re-ignited the question of conflict of interest among politicians in Malta.
Verging on tears prior to leaving the chamber, Justyne Caruana gave a speech where she opened up about living with police protection for the last year, and being scrutinised for being married to deputy police commissioner Silvio Valletta.
“I want to assure my children, who for the past year have had to live with a police escort because of the undue attention given to my family, that their father performed his job well and this led to results like no other. I want to assure my children that their father and I did nothing to be ashamed of and our actions were always correct in the best interest of the country,” Caruana said.
She left parliament ahead of a debate on a PN motion calling for an independent investigation into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Her husband, as deputy commissioner in charge of homicides, was involved in the investigation from the get-go. However, he was forced to give up the case after the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of a complaint filed by Daphne Caruana Galizia's family. The family had warned Valletta has a conflict of interest in light of his marriage to Caruana and the fact that the late journalist was a renowned critic of the Labour government.
MEP Marlene Mizzi, who is married to a member of the judiciary, came to the defence of the Gozo Minister
"I would like to offer my full support and sympathy to Minister Justyne Caruana. I know what it feels like and what it means when our integrity and that of our husbands are questioned simply because of our marital status," said Marlene Mizzi.
"It is evident that certain people use their own (warped) yardstick to measure the integrity of others. And evidently, the fact that married couples are capable of handling their different careers in a professional manner and distinct from each other, is beyond their comprehension."
Marlene Mizzi is herself married to Judge Antonio Mizzi.
The issue of a conflict of interest in a country as small as Malta has impacted a number of politicians
Indeed, the Mizzis themselves came under fire when Judge Mizzi was appointed to be a judge on an appeals case involving the Panama Papers scandal which rocked the Labour administration, which Marlene Mizzi is a part of.
Similarly, the international press were shocked to find that a deputy police commissioner who was married to a government minister was part of the Caruana Galizia murder investigation.
Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera - after mounting pressure - had recused herself from being a part of the Caruana Galizia case due to a conflict of interest, and magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech had also recused herself because she used to share a classroom with one of Caruana Galizia's sisters.
In a country as intertwined as Malta, the perception of a conflict of interest is, unfortunately, a relatively common occurrence. However, there are situations when certain authorities are expected to step out of the room for the good of the country, and to do otherwise does nothing but continue to fuel the rumour mill.