The Malta Independent 20 January 2022, Thursday

Watch: Neville Gafa not employed with Foreign Affairs Ministry

Kevin Schembri Orland Tuesday, 2 July 2019, 09:49 Last update: about 4 years ago

Foreign Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela has confirmed that Neville Gafa is not employed by his ministry, however did not reveal which ministry or government entity Gafa works for.

Gafà hit the headlines when he was embroiled in the Libyan medical visas scandal. In June this year, an image of Gafa emerged showing that he had been on hand for at least one diplomatic meeting in Tripoli between Malta’s Ambassador to Libya, Charles Saliba, and Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Metig, at which Malta said it was willing to re-open its embassy in Tripoli.

He also caused a stir last December when he held diplomatic talks in Tripoli as ‘a special envoy of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’. This had also been seen in pictures uploaded on various Libyan social media and newspaper websites. When contacted by this newsroom at the time and asked why Gafà had been in Libya and whether he held a diplomatic passport, Minister Abela had insisted that Gafà is not employed by his Ministry, and that he does not hold a diplomatic passport.

Approached by this newsroom yesterday, Abela again confirmed that Gafa is not employed by his ministry.

The minister was unwilling to reveal which ministry or entity Gafa actually works for. The ministry ignored questions sent last week and Gafa himself has also failed to reply to emailed questions.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat confirmed that Gafa was in Tripoli on behalf of the Maltese government, adding that he had known about the trip, but insisted that he did not know which ministry employed Gafa. “He is employed by the government but I don’t know what his contract says because it is not available to me at this moment," Muscat told journalists.

Asked the same question yesterday, Minister Abela said: “Gafa is not an employee of my ministry, he is a government employee. But the most important thing for us is the results we want to achieve vis-a-vis the relationship between Malta and Libya. What is important as well is that Libya be stable country, where one can work inside the country. We know what the situation is. Our interest as Malta goes away from individuals as in fact there were a number of people who formed part of this delegation. Our aim is to see results in our relations as a country with a neighbouring country, Libya, and that finally there be stability in the region.”

Asked whether he knows which ministry or agency Gafa is employed with, Abela said: “The most important thing is for us to have results away from who is employed with whom. He is a government employee. As a ministry we sent this delegation made up of a number of members led by our ambassador to Libya. The most important thing for us are the results we achieve in the relations between Malta and Libya, and even to speak on specific issues and how we can face these specific issues together.”

Asked to specify Gafa’s role in the delegation and role in the talks, Abela said: “As a delegation it was composed of a number of members representing their fields. He is a government employee who gives his contribution even in this field, and so our interest was to have people who can contribute, not only on relations, but as well as on the challenges we have and how we can face them better.”

This newsroom then again specifically asked for Gafa’s specific reason for being there, and what topics he spoke about. “The delegation was led by the ambassador and so it was the ambassador who was on the front leading the delegation, but he had input from the whole delegation. More than someone speaking individually it was the whole delegation led by the ambassador who moved these discussions,” Abela replied.

This newsroom pressed Abela for Neville Gafa’s exact position in government, his title and which agency or ministry he works for. “What I can say is that he is not an employee of my ministry. He is a government employee who, as a government employee, has his own responsibilities like every other government employee has to do.”

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