The Malta Independent 17 October 2019, Thursday

PM says he has full confidence in Caruana Galizia inquiry board members

Neil Camilleri Sunday, 22 September 2019, 10:30 Last update: about 24 days ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Sunday morning that he has full confidence in the integrity and competence of the three people entrusted with carrying out an independent public inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

On Friday, the government announced that retired judge Michael Mallia will be leading the inquiry, with Professor Ian Refalo and Dr Anthony Abela Medici serving as members.

ADVERTISEMENT

Concerns have been raised by the Caruana Galizia family, which has requested a meeting with the PM, as well as by civil society NGOs. They have flagged, for example, the fact that Refalo has acted as lawyer to the government and also represented former Allied Newspapers managing director Adrian Hillman.

Speaking from New York, where he is attending United Nations General Assembly, Muscat said that no one doubted the integrity of the people chosen. He added that no one had criticised the terms of reference of the inquiry, which will mainly look into whether the government could have prevented the journalist’s murder.

“We said right from the start that we agreed that there should be a public inquiry but that it should not jeopardise ongoing criminal proceedings against the suspects.”

Muscat said the government had reservations about the methodology used by the Council of Europe, but it worked with the COE to come up with clear terms of reference.

He said the inquiry board members are capable of performing the task entrusted to them.

“I will listen to the family. I have already communicated that I am willing to meet them. But I have full faith in the integrity and impartiality of the panel members.”

On Saturday evening, the Caruana Galizia family said the meeting with the PM will give them the opportunity to “provide the government with notice of any connections between members and our wife and mother, and any pronouncements they have made on her assassination."

“The membership suggested by the government late last night remains unconfirmed until this consultation is over, the family said.

"Meanwhile, we note that the suggested members have caused grave public concern. We share the public's concern and will raise further concerns when the Prime Minister agrees to meet us.”

 

Infrastructure

Muscat also spoke about the Marsa Junction project which, he said, will make a huge difference for the people of the south. “This is the country’s busiest junction, with 100,000 people passing through every day. The only major update wase the traffic lights that were installed in 1997,” he said.

While the government has embarked on a €700 project to rebuild all major roads, it is also investing a further €70 million into the Marsa project. The first flyover was opened on Friday evening.

Muscat said the project will make a difference on Monday, when many schools reopen after the summer holidays, but said there might still be some “pressures” in the first few days.

The government, he said, was taking the country’s infrastructure seriously and is “planning for the future.”

The upcoming budget will be part of this plan, he said.

  • don't miss