Prime Minister Robert Abela has confirmed he is being investigated by the police for the murder of migrants at sea following a police report filed by NGO Repubblika.
In a statement he delivered this evening, Abela confirmed that Repubblika has reported him, as well as AFM Commander Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi and 11 soldiers who man a patrol boat, to the police for homicide because of the government’s decision to close its ports to irregular migrants.
Repubblika’s report was filed by its lawyer, PN MP and justice spokesperson Jason Azzopardi.
“I visited the acting police commissioner at the police HQ and informed him I was subjecting myself to any investigation he feels is necessary,” Abela said. “I was informed that, because of the nature of the accusations, the police commissioner has instructed a magistrate to launch an inquiry against the Brigadier and myself.”
“The charge of murder is one that brings about a sentence of life imprisonment. I feel saddened that, in this moment of a public health emergency, twelve AFM officials will be hindered in their crucial work for Malta to fight COVID-19 successfully.”
“Instead of praising them, some people want to see them jailed. The actions of Repubblika and Jason Azzopardi mean we will have even fewer resources at sea and will make the AFM lose heart, and this at a time when everyone is focused on doing out utmost to safeguard public health.”
Malta and Italy last week declared their ports unsafe to migrants crossing the Mediterranean in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. A few days later, the International Organisation for Migration reported that four bodies had been found on a migrant boat in Malta’s search and rescue region and the 47 surviving people on board had been returned to Libya.
Abela said that his conscience is clean because the decisions he took to combat the spread of COVID-19 were based on protecting the common good safeguarding public health.
Moreover, he noted that the European Court of Human Rights had turned down a request by Repubblika to urgently order Malta and Italy to reverse their decisions to close their ports to migrants crossing the Mediterranean.