Robert Abela gave his first speech in Parliament as Malta’s Prime Minister this morning, which turned out to be a brief announcement that Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana had resigned.
Today’s parliamentary session, the first since the House re-convened from its Christmas recess, was supposed to start with a welcome speech by the new Prime Minister, as per an agreement reached last weekend between the government and Opposition.
However, Abela chose to only focus on the resignation of Justyne Caruana, in light of revelations that her husband, former deputy police commissioner Silvio Valletta, had accompanied murder suspect Yorgen Fenech to the UK to watch a Premier League football game in September 2018.
Fenech had already been identified as a person of interest in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, but Valletta has insisted that he was not aware that the businessman was a suspect.
“Earlier today, I received a letter from Hon. Justyne Caruana, in which she informed me that she was resigning her post as minister,” Abela said in Parliament. “I have accepted this resignation and I take the occasion to thank her for the work she has carried out for Gozo and Gozitans in her position as Gozo Minister, for her work towards the elderly and people with disabilities in her previous role as parliamentary secretary, and for all the work she has carried out as an MP.”
In her resignation letter, Caruana said that she was resigning despite being “totally extraneous” to the case involving her husband and Yorgen Fenech.
“I’ve always served loyally and with full dedication to the position I was entrusted with and I’ve always behaved with rectitude and correctness,” she said. “I would like to be able to defend my name for my children’s sake.”