Prime Minister Robert Abela has reacted to calls to reopen an inquiry to discover the true owner of offshore company Egrant by calling on the Opposition to look into a controversial 1996 conditional pardon.
In a boisterous parliamentary session that saw both sides of the room throw constant political jabs at each other, Abela pointed to what happened with Joseph Fenech – known as Żeppi l-Ħafi – in the 1990s in the wake of calls to reopen the Egrant inquiry from the Opposition.
“What joker card did Żeppi have to get that pardon?” Abela asked. “He was given a general pardon for everything. And then when it came to his testimony in court, no one ended up believing him and everyone was freed.”
Abela then criticised Opposition leader Bernard Grech’s recent comments about believing there may be more than one mastermind in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder, and his willingness to offer some kind of clemency to murder suspect Yorgen Fenech, saying that by making his comments he had opened the door to other criminals requesting pardons.
“Why do you want criminals to not be punished and be pardoned?” Abela asked, before saying “I’m different than you… any requests for pardons sent to us will be handled with the utmost responsibility.”
Members of the Opposition reacted strongly to Abela’s words, with the Speaker of the House having to admonish some louder members after they began chanting “mafia”.
Read about the Żeppi l-Ħafi case, as well as a list of other pardons given out in Malta, here.
Abela also called out the Opposition saying the government’s Budget was “irrelevant”.
“You do not know how to be positive. All you know how to do is say who needs to be sent to prison next,” Abela said to the Nationalist Party.
In regards the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Abela spoke about the investments the government’s made to support local businesses as he said scenes of queues of people lining up for food banks in other countries was becoming the norm.
“Till this very day, as other countries’ governments remove support because their war chest has run out, we remain strong and determined to help people,” he said.