The Malta Independent 25 April 2019, Thursday

Watch: Bonnici skirts around question on PM contradictory stand on Caruana Galizia, Debono

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 7 February 2019, 08:24 Last update: about 4 months ago

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici refused to say if it is a contradiction for the Prime Minister to sue Daphne Caruana Galizia for libel following her claim that the PM's wife Michelle Muscat was the owner of a company opening in Panama named Egrant, yet said it was "freedom of expression" when Law Commissioner Franco Debono effectively said the same thing.

Former PN MP and the current Law Commissioner Franco Debono launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Saturday, calling him the "most corrupt politician" that Malta has ever seen. In addition, he said in a separate post that from all the facts in the public domain one can argue that given the circumstantial evidence, the secret Panama company Egrant belongs to Joseph Muscat or someone close to him. The Egrant inquiry conclusions had found no evidence of this.

Both Prime Minister Joseph Muscat as well as Justice Minister Owen Bonnici have described Debono's outburst as “freedom of expression.”

This newsroom spoke with Justice Minister Owen Bonnici again yesterday, and asked him whether it is a contradiction for the Prime Minister to have sued Daphne Caruana Galizia for saying that Egrant belonged to his wife - a move which Bonnici supported - yet call it freedom of expression when Law Commissioner Franco Debono practically repeated the claim.

“The point is that there was a journalist who published things which the Prime Minister felt, and it was proved that he was right, were libellous and defamatory. As such he filed the civil suit to clear his name. I think that was a good thing.”

Pressed on why the same isn’t being done to Franco Debono if the same allegations were repeated, Bonnici said that he said all he had to say on this case of Franco Debono earlier in the week (freedom of expression) and that he has nothing to add.

The Egrant inquiry had not found evidence that the third Panama company belonged to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat or his wife Michelle, or that the PM's wife had received a $1.07 million payment into a Dubai account. The full report is still to be published; only the conclusions were published last July.

Video: Alenka Falzon

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