The Malta Independent 3 June 2020, Wednesday

PM takes aim at credibility of Dutch MP who wrote damning Council of Europe report

Wednesday, 22 May 2019, 19:06 Last update: about 2 years ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has taken aim at the credibility of a Dutch MP who was the rapporteur behind a damning Council of Europe report on Malta.

Peter Omtzigt's report said the rule of law in Malta is "seriously undermined" by the "extreme weaknesses" in its system of checks and balances; a dysfunctional system which has resulted in individuals such as the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, and Nexia BT's Brian Tonna seemingly enjoy impunity under the "personal protection" of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.


Speaking in Msida, Muscat referred to the "dubious" report, penned by a member of the EPP, the European political group that the PN belongs to. "He spoke about the enormous powers held by the PM, but he forgot to mention that I am the PM who introduced checks and balances and dispensed of many powers."

Muscat said the Dutch MP had peddled conspiracy theories in the shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines plane over Ukraine in 2014. "All international investigations at the time were pointing towards Russia but this MP, with the help of a conspiracy theorist, said Ukraine had shot the plane down. He later had to apologise for giving false information to the families of the victims," Muscat said, adding that Omtzigt was trafficking false information against Malta.

Referring to Wednesday's court ruling in a case filed by an NGO to nullify the latest round of judicial appointments, Muscat said the people who cried the most about the rule of law in Malta were the ones who went to court the most. He was referring to PN MPs Simon Busuttil and Jason Azzopardi, who filed the court application. "The courts keep telling them that they are wrong," the PM said.

He said it was this government that had changed the judicial appointments system. "Today, in order for someone to be considered for the role they have to be recommended by a board that includes the Chief Justice, Attorney General and the President of the Chamber of Architects. Simon Busuttil and Jason Azzopardi voted in favour of this change but they now claiming that the system is wrong."

Muscat said the Venice Commission had said that a number of laws need to be changed, but none of them were laws that we introduced. Most of them have been in place since Independence, he said. Nonetheless, the government will implement more recommendations.


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