Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis has backed Prime Minister Robert Abela to make the right choice in relation to Malta Tourism Authority CEO Johann Buttigieg.
Buttigieg, who previously held the role of CEO of the Planning Authority, was last week revealed to have enjoyed a very close relationship with Yorgen Fenech, the businessman accused of masterminding the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Messages exchanged between the pair which were revealed by Sunday Times of Malta show the two men enjoying a close relationship, with Buttigieg even suggested that the two should “do business” together.
The suggestion came during a conversation in which Fenech offered to partner with Buttigieg on a property development he was looking to take over from Joe Portelli, the Gozitan construction magnate.
Despite widespread calls for Buttigieg’s resignation, Prime Minister Robert Abela has stood by him, insisting that Buttigieg had not in fact done any business with Fenech when asked whether he felt it was acceptable for people heads of regulatory entities to do be involved in such business.
“It is the Prime Minister’s prerogative. If there are proceedings underway, I have no doubt that the Prime Minister will take the right decision,” Zammit Lewis said when asked the same question.
“I saw the report in the newspaper and I saw his reaction. Obviously, they aren’t the same. He is denying a substantial part of what was published in the newspaper. But again, if there is some form of process underway it should take its course, and then the Prime Minister will take the right decision.”
The minister has himself been accused of having too close a relationship with Fenech. Back in September, it was revealed that Fenech and Zammit Lewis had exchanged over 700 messages between January and October 2019.
In November, Lovin Malta also revealed that Zammit Lewis, together with then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had stayed at a luxurious hotel owned by Fenech for free in 2014. Both Muscat and Zammit Lewis have insisted that they paid their own way, but three months down the line, no proof has been forthcoming that shows that this is the case.
What do you make of Edward Zammit Lewis’ response?