A former PL MP and deputy leader has warned that a police search on Joseph Muscat’s house may have breached the former Prime Minister’s human rights, citing a similar case in the 90s involving controversial former minister Lorry Sant.
Joe Brincat, a lawyer who served as an MP for almost four entire decades, published a video after Muscat’s home was searched by police in connection with an inquiry into the sale of three hospitals to Vitals Global Healthcare.
“I believe that JM and his family suffered a violation of their fundamental human rights in accordance with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights,” he said, referring to an article that provides a right to respect for private and family life.
Brincat recounted how a constitutional court had in 1994 ruled in favour of Lorry Sant after he filed a human rights case against the police commissioner over a search at his home.
Quoting from the sentence, he noted that judges Giuseppe Mifsud Bonnici, Lino Agius and Joseph Said Pullicino had criticised the police for carrying out a search of Sant’s home at 7:30am and for taking video footage of everything they spotted, including personal items.
“There would have been no danger of documents being destroyed or assets being transferred had the search been carried out at, say, 9am, when people are getting ready for their day,” he said. “The interference of authorities in their private lives would have been reduced to the minimum in terms of necessity.”
“In Muscat’s case, the search took place at 7am.”
Brincat also noted that the European Court of Human Rights had delivered similar rulings in two separate cases filed by French citizens against the government of France.
“Didn’t the police know they were breaching Muscat’s fundamental human rights? I don’t know who ordered the police to search his home at 7am, but whoever did so breached his rights, as well as those of his wife and children.”
Muscat’s home was raided by police this week in connection with payments he had received from Accutor AG, a Swiss company run by lawyer Wasay Bhatti which had received €3.6 million from Steward Healthcare during the period it had taken over the hospitals concession from Vitals Global Healthcare.
As reported by Times of Malta last November, Muscat received some €60,000 from Accutor AG in consultancy fees shortly after his 2019 resignation as Prime Minister in the wake of a political crisis sparked by Yorgen Fenech’s arrest for the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
However, Matthew Caruana Galizia – son of Daphne Caruana Galizia – said that Muscat’s contract with Accutor AG was actually worth €540,000, €15,000 per month for a minimum of 36 months.
After the raid, Muscat published a video warning he is ready to “start making noise” after two years of relative silence since his resignation as Prime Minister.
He said he had asked magistrate Gabriella Vella to testify and present her with information on his relationship with Accutor AG shortly after Times of Malta published its story but that his request was ignored.
“For one reason or another, the path of theatrics was chosen. Maybe someone wanted to send a message that police entered my home,” Muscat said cryptically.
What do you make of Brincat’s argument?