Malta’s news cycle is a never-ending affair with major stories concerning sexual assault in the police force, the country’s controversial citizenship-by-investment scheme, and a hack in the Nationalist Party hitting the news this week.
It can be hard to keep up with so much going on, so here are some of the biggest news stories last week to keep you informed on everything that’s happening on the islands.
1. Veteran Police Officer charged with raping a woman he was meant to help
Malta was left reeling with the news that a police officer was charged with raping a woman who had called for help after being robbed.
On 16th April, Glenn Carabott, who is 40-years-old and has been on the force for 18 years, was called to the residence of a woman who had been robbed and allegedly raped.
After the act, he did not file a follow-up police report nor initiate investigations in an attempt to find the woman’s stolen items, raising the alarm.
In court, it emerged that there was footage of the incident on Carabott’s mobile.
The courts shot down a bail request from Carabott.
Carabott is a former UN peacekeeper who had been stationed in Kosovo during his 18-year-tenure. He had made the news in 2018 after he famously discovered a baby that was abandoned in Bugibba.
After the charges were issued, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri told Lovin Malta that the force has zero-tolerance for any abuse, noting that he launched the Victim Support Agency that same morning.
2. Malta’s cash-for-passport gets a day of reckoning.
Five independent Maltese media houses came together as part of a wide-ranging investigation, coordinated by the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, into Malta’s controversial citizenship-by-investment scheme.
The whistleblower who provided most of the material first came to Daphne Caruana Galizia years ago, providing evidence about the IIP.
After the journalist’s assassination, her family tried to contact the whistleblower, but they had no name or contact. They eventually resurfaced and were willing to share the evidence about the IIP that would become the basis of the Passport Papers investigation.
Written evidence has emerged of a business relationship between Henley & Partners, the global citizenship firm behind Malta’s Individual Investor Programme, and the people behind the now-defunct controversial big data firm Cambridge Analytica.
However, Henley & Partners has said that it has no knowledge of any such formal relationship and that any agreements were never formalised and implemented. Lovin Malta has seen three separate agreements as part of the investigations.
Meanwhile, the investigation has also revealed the questionable ways applicants prove their residence in Malta, with basic receipts, leases, and others proving to be enough to get a powerful Maltese passport.
The scheme’s links between applicants and government officials have also been laid bare.
3. The Armed Forces of Malta were ordered to pay €178,500 to the family of a dead soldier.
A court ordered the Armed Forces of Malta to pay €178,500 in compensation to the family of a soldier who died during a military exercise in 2009.
Matthew Psaila died during a night military drill at Chadwick Lakes. The gunner, who did not know how to swim, drowned while navigating an underwater tunnel during extremely cold weather.
Psaila was pulled out of the water unconscious after spending some 10 minutes submerged and a further 20 minutes without a pulse in an ambulance.
The courts found that failures on the part of the AFM had “exceeded by far” those of the victim.
“While no amount of money can ever bring back what we lost, the decision by the Court that the army was to blame for 80% of the accident is at least some justice done to the memory of a brave, dedicated young man, whose life was cut short well before its prime,” Psaila’s uncle Martin Bugelli said on Facebook of the decision.
However, Bugelli noted that the decision had absolved the AFM officials who were responsible for the exercise.
4. The PN was given 240 hours to contact hackers or have sensitive details leaked online.
In a scene straight out of an action movie, the Nationalist Party were given 240 hours, or 10 days, to contact hackers on the dark web or treasure trove of sensitive information, including “employee salaries, financial data, employee personal details, client data, payment documents and more” will be released.
The attack occurred after someone opened Avaddon ransomware, a type of malware often attached to malicious emails.
This type of ransomware targets companies and individuals worldwide, threatening to release sensitive information and even take their website down in a coordinated DDoS attack if they do not meet the group’s ransom request.
The PN has made it clear it has no intention of negotiating with criminals and have already contacted the Data Commissioner and police.
The deadline expires on Thursday. Several memes and jokes have already appeared on social media. However, an attack of the opposition party does have some serious implications on our democracy.
5. Malta will reopen restaurants on 10th May under strict restrictions.
Malta is slowly exiting the latest round of strict COVID-19 measures following a spike in cases at the start of the year. The Prime Minister has announced that Malta will reopen restaurants and snack bars on 10th May.
However, only be allowed to serve diners until 5pm while a maximum of four diners will sit down at each table.
On the same day, training for professional contact sports can re-commence, and non-contact sports can start again but with no spectators. Meanwhile, arts, educational and extracurricular activities, and doctrine lessons will be allowed to continue, and open-air markets will also be allowed to reopen.
Travel restrictions between Malta and Gozo will also be lifted that day.
Non-essential shops and services, as well as museums, reopened this morning.
6. Malta’s Environment Minister had a crazy Twitter spat.
In case Malta didn’t already feel like a parallel universe, Malta’s Environment Minister took time out of his busy schedule to enter a cringe-worthy spat on Twitter that you have to read to believe.
It all kicked off after satirical page Bis-Serjeta uploaded an image featuring Farrugia. What happened next was a smorgasbord of awkward ‘yo mamma’ jokes, insult-trading with the chairman of the National Book Council, and a libel threat.
Farrugia later issued an apology after the embarrassing tirade.
“There’s no justification over the fact that yesterday I should have reacted differently to a satirical post about me,” Farrugia said before going on to say this will be the last time he posts comments such as those.
“Anyone who knows me knows that doesn’t reflect what I believe in.”
7. Sexual harassment on the island is revealed through social media.
Sexual harassment in Malta is a commonplace reality for people of all gender, as an in-depth investigation by Lovin Malta into the issue revealed. However, last week, three shocking videos on social media provided first-hand accounts of the problem.
The first involved a young Maltese girl who reached out on TikTok to recount an incident where she was catcalled numerous times while out on a walk. In another, a 17-year-old shared a video of a man speaking to her on a bus, even touching her at one point, as she repeatedly tells him to go away.
“One thing I want to tell you – you are really bitch (sic)” was the aggressor’s response.
Meanwhile, Lovin Malta spoke to a Filipina woman living in Qawra who claimed police refused to file her report after being stalked at night by a man.
“A man was waving at me, but I didn’t know him. I began walked home, which was just three blocks down, and he ran in front of me, invaded my space and started asking personal questions,” she said, detailing an episode of incessant harassment by an unknown man.
“The officer on shift told me that since he didn’t actually harm me, then there was nothing they could do. They said I should have called them when it actually happened, but I wasn’t thinking properly out of fear.”
“It made me feel upset and annoyed. Yes, they’re right, he didn’t cause any physical harm to me, but that’s because I acted early. Do I have to wait until I’m attacked to feel protected? How can they assume it won’t happen again?”
If you have suffered sexual assault, whether it was recently or not, and would like free, professional emotional support or legal assistance, get in touch with Victim Support Malta on + 356 2122 8333 or send an email to [email protected]
What do you think of last week’s stories?