The Malta Independent 16 January 2019, Wednesday

It would have been easier to just invite Simon Schembri to please the audience – Xarabank host

INDEPTH online Thursday, 1 November 2018, 08:11 Last update: about 3 months ago

Xarabank host Peppi Azzopardi has said that he could have easily left out Liam Debono from the show, only inviting police officer Simon Schembri, thus pleasing his audience, but he felt that he had a duty to present both sides of story.

This week’s edition of Intepth tackled the recent decision, by Magistrate Joseph Mifsud, to gag the TVM programme from airing a recorded interview with Debono, who stands accused of the attempted murder of Police Constable Simon Schembri. The officer suffered horrific injuries after he was dragged under a car driven by the 17-year-old.

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The Malta Independent Editor-in-chief Rachel Attard interviewed Peppi Azzopardi and Dione Borg, both veteran journalists. The latter is also a PN MEP election candidate.

The Xarabank presenter said he could have taken the easy choice if he wanted people to clap at him, but felt that he had to interview both parties.

Responding to accusations from the public that he was taking advantage of the situation by capitalizing on the massive media attention of this case, Azzopardi reiterated that Simon Schembri had first confirmed he was accepting the invitation to appear on the show but when the host told him that Liam Debono would also be interviewed, he told Azzopardi: “It’s either Liam or me."

Dione Borg disagreed with the whole concept of interviewing people involved in ongoing, or sub judice, court cases. In fact, when asked whether he agreed with One News' decision to interview Debono's mother, he insisted that "the only journalism that should take place after the court case starts is strictly investigative. “Only if we find new information."

"What value will the story have, he asked. “The only value it will have is to make us laugh in front of the television. We need to grow up in this country. The people do not deserve this kind of charade."

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