The Malta Independent 19 August 2019, Monday

A journalist died but the truth and the facts should not die too - Adrian Delia

Rebekah Cilia Monday, 1 July 2019, 19:16 Last update: about 3 months ago

Daphne Caruana Galizia died but the truth and facts should not die too, PN Leader Adrian Delia told Parliament on Monday, whilst discussing the report approved last week by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly.

Quoting from the report, Delia said that the Prime Minister is appointing members of the judiciary not because of their competence but because of their political affiliations to the Labour Party. He commented that this hurts Malta's reputation.

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Noting what the rapporteur of the report said, that in countries like Spain, Iceland and even Mongolia people related to the Panama Papers resigned, Delia said that the government is being stubborn and that Malta is being condemned by Europe. It is for this reason that the Opposition keeps on harping on about the Panama Papers scandal.

He said that this is going to have consequences on Malta's name, reputation and investment and asked Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to "do something about it." Delia said that Muscat has a strong majority in parliament and that he should use it to change his stance on the matter and to protect Malta's reputation.

"Fix what is wrong, not for the Opposition, not for the government, but for Malta," Delia said.

He said that the Opposition put forward a motion to investigate all that Daphne Caruana Galizia said but the government rejected it. Delia also noted that the Opposition also put forward a motion for an independent inquiry into the assassination, but this too was shot down.

Now, Delia said, the Parliamentary Assembly is pushing the government to follow the recommendation for a public inquiry and if it is not done they will keep on following up.

These reports, referring to the Council of Europe, the GRECO, the MoneyVal, and the Venice Commission reports, are carried out by competent people into all countries which are democratic. He said that a test and research is carried out and if the verdict is positive they will inform the country. But if the verdict is very bad they ask for changes to be done immediately.

Regarding the law being presented to change the Attorney General's roles, Delia said he did understand the difficulties Justice Minister Owen Bonnici may have encountered but this law is an intrinsic part of other laws. Alone this law is not enough, he commented.

Delia pointed out the comments of University of Malta Dean of Law, Kevin Aquilina who described the law as "parody" of what the Venice Commission report asked for. Whilst Delia said that Europe is telling us what to do and that we should not just listen to outsiders, what is being reported is clear and makes sense and it needs to be implemented.

Regarding the appointment of more judiciary members, despite being told in the report not to make further appointments until the recommendations are done, Delia said that it is against the rule of law and making Malta's reputation worse.

Delia explained what is meant by impunity, a strong point made in the Parliamentary Assembly's report, saying that the powerful are continuing to do wrong and not being punished, whilst the same wrong is punishable for ordinary citizens. This he said creates an imbalance between those in power and the citizens.

He appealed directly to the Prime Minister to use the strength he has in his favour, not because Europe is telling him but because these insinuations need to be strengthen for the Maltese and then consequently Malta's reputation can slowly be regained.

Jason Azzopardi

PN MP Jason Azzopardi also spoke about the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly's report saying that with a large majority, the Assembly told off Malta about a law that he said the government was "pulling wool over our eyes."

Azzopardi was referring to the law about the Attorney General's roles. He also took aim at Bonnici saying that he speaks with an air of knowing everything. He went on to give several examples when Bonnici acted in this manner.

Also quoting Aquilina, Azzopardi said the law is not in line with the standard of laws Malta should have, despite the fact that government has said it is going to be inline with the recommendations of the Venice Commission.

He said that government tried to ridicule the Opposition but just last week the Council of Europe voted with a large majority that the law presented to parliament is not enough to implement the Venice Commission recommendations. "We were proved right once again," Azzopardi commented.

Azzopardi gave the example of the construction laws that were presented, with the Opposition saying they were not enough. The government is now admitting to have to change them again, he noted. When things are done fast, they are not done right, he added.

Speaking about the comments made by the Prime Minister on the rapporteur of the report, Pieter Omtzigt, Azzopardi said that through its members it tried to launch a personal attack on him. He noted that an English Labour Party member described this character assignation as "disgraceful."

Mentioning the Finance Minister describing Malta as trailblazers in the fight against money laundering, Azzopardi said we can never be so before steps are taken against the Prime Minister's friends which are corrupt.

Azzopardi accused the government of immobilising ambassadors of countries forming part of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly to lobby its members to vote against the report. He gave the examples of Italy and Germany.

Noting that the Maltese delegation of the Council of Europe put forward around 42 amendments, all of which got shot down, by all political parties. He said that the only country in the legal committee that agreed with the amendments was Azerbaijan.

Azzopardi made reference to a tweet made by Omtzigt yesterday noting that the Maltese delegation did not challenge a word of the points raised about Panama Papers, Egrant, Golden Visa scheme, Vitals and Nexia BT, amongst others. There was also a recommendation to publish the Egrant report without further delay which the Maltese delegation did not challenge.

He also expressed his worry about the latest judiciary appointment, saying that when a final sentencing from the European Court nullifies all the judges would have done, then who is going to carry responsibility. "Pleasures yet to come," Azzopardi commented.

The report also asked that Malta launches a public inquiry into the death of Daphne Caruana Galizia to be set up within three months. The Maltese delegation, Azzopardi noted told the Parliamentary Assembly that the Maltese law does not permit such an inquiry.

Azzopardi said he addressed these "lies" and noted that even when there is an outbreak of chicken pox in schools such an inquiry was carried out, thus the law already provides for it.

A public inquiry investigates the motive, whilst a magisterial inquiry does not, he said. He added that a magisterial inquiry does not determine if the death could have been avoided, but a public inquiry goes into this. He also said that a magisterial inquiry does not determine political fault.

Azzopardi concluded saying that in a public inquiry the criminals and corrupt people in Castile, and those associated with Castile, would be looked into if there was a public inquiry. "The Prime Minister has nothing to fear, expect the truth."

Owen Bonnici

Reacting, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici accused Jason Azzopardi of not being honest.

He referred to recent comments by Delia, who had said he has no time to waste on Azzopardi. "Do not mind what I say about Azzopardi, but what his own leader says."

Bonnici said Azzopardi was ecstatic that he managed to promote an "unjust and inprecise" report that attacked our country.

He did not only want the report to be approved but also for the CoE to start a monitoring procedure against Malta, he said. The majority of members of the council voted against this proposal. Azzopardi was one of the few who voted in favour.

Bonnici said the rapporteur, Pieter Omtzigt, had relied on false information in the case of the Malaysian Airlines plane that was shot down over Ukraine. Was he the ideal person to seek the truth about our country, he asked. "I do not have respect for Omtzigt but I do have respect for the Council of Europe."

The goverment, he said, had already started the process to separate the powers of the Attorney General.

About the judicial appointments, Bonnici said this administration had promoted to judges people that had been appointed magistrates by previous nationalist administrations.

The people criticising now had said nothing when, under a previous administration a minister's brother had been made Chief Justice.

This government had changed the system of judicial appointments and the Opposition, including Jason Azzopardi, had voted in favour of the new law.

Reacting to comments that only Azerbaijani MPs had backed Malta, Bonnici said they were in fact defending their own country, which was also mentioned in Omtzigt's report.

The Justice Minister said recommendations for improvement were always welcome but outright lies were unacceptable. In time, people will realise that politics like those practised by Azzopardi only serve to harm the country.

Referring to the comments by Azzopardi, who said the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia was ordered by people with access to the highers corridors of powers, Bonnici asked how the PN MP could be taken seriously when making such statements.

"He is not any other lawyer but also parte civile in the court case. He has direct access to the prosecution. If he knows something he should give that information to the prosecution, rather than speak in riddles."

 


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