The Malta Independent 25 April 2019, Thursday

EP committee discusses draft resolution seeking full disclosure of Egrant inquiry

Rebekah Cilia Monday, 11 February 2019, 21:34 Last update: about 3 months ago

The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) committee has tonight, discussed the draft resolution asking the government for the full disclosure of the Egrant inquiry and to terminate the passport sales contract with Henley & Partners, amongst other recommendations. 

The draft resolution was the result of the Committee’s Working Group who was sent to Malta, last year, with the general mandate to monitor the situation as regards rule of law and the fight against corruption in Malta and Slovakia, and generally within the EU.

Sophia in ’t Veld, the rapporteur of the Working Group, firmly condemned hate speech and harassment levelled at the Caruana Galizia family. The draft resolution, she said, also urged the  government to drop the libel suits against the Caruana Galizia family, as "they have enough grief and it leads to nothing."

She also mentioned that the Working Group were promised a solution to the makeshift memory site of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta. This is "an important step in healing the rift in society."

The Golden Visa scheme should be abolished, the draft resolution notes, with the rapporteur adding it is not compatible with the Schengen agreement. 

The Venice Commission was only mentioned in the draft resolution, with in ’t Veld saying the fact that the structural problems in Malta’s institutions are ‘extremely worrying’ and that Malta needs to step up the pace with regards to the constitutional changes put forward.

The draft resolution also notes with concern that the Maltese authorities “never issued an official legal assistance request to the German Federal Criminal Police Office (‘Bundeskriminalamt’) to be given access to the data stored on Caruana Galizia’s laptops and hard disks after they were handed over to the German authorities by her family”.

Roberta Metsola and Miriam Dalli were also among the speakers during the Committee meeting, this evening. A fiery Metsola said that this resolution gives a stark picture under the current Labour government. She also continued to say "I will never be shut up by little populist people’ and that she ‘cannot be silent when they [Maltese] are under threat."

Metsola, a member of the Working Group, called for an end to impunity and for the full publication of the full Egrant report. She also mentioned the Panama Papers scandal, with the resolution asking the government to launch an investigation.

The draft resolution, as pointed out by Metsola, calls on the government to fully investigate the allegations of the mass sale of Schengen and medical visas, including the alleged involvement of former or current high ranking Maltese government officials such as the Chief of Staff at the Prime Minister’s Office and Neville Gafa.

Dalli, responded on a point-by-point basis, noting errors and omissions in the draft resolution. She had previously accused some members of the Committee of having allowed partisan politics to cloud their judgments.

Among the points noted, Dalli said that the Egrant report was, in fact, conclusive, with no room for interpretation. Furthermore, the main conclusions were published, with the Prime Minister saying he wanted the full report made public.

Reacting to the point about a public inquiry into the murder of Caruana Galizia, Dalli said the government had never dismissed this possibility, but a public inquiry could not be held while a magisterial one was underway.

She also mentioned that the resolution called for the reform of libel laws when it was, in fact, the current government who had removed criminal libel for the law. She mentioned that it was former EPP government officials and Prime Minister who instituted criminal libel. The previous government, she said, also ordered the arrest of a journalist for filming a Public Accounts Committee session.

"Two weights, two measures," Dalli concluded, saying that other countries had similar problems but were only given a "tiny slap on the wrist."

  • don't miss