The Malta Independent 22 September 2020, Tuesday

Daphne public inquiry: I never supported Joseph Muscat - Anglu Farrugia

Albert Galea Tuesday, 7 January 2020, 13:49 Last update: about 10 months ago

Speaker Anglu Farrugia said that he never supported Joseph Muscat and did not endorse him when he ran for leader in 2008.

Testifying in the public inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, he said that he never had access to the fabled fourth floor at the PL headquarters, which Farrugia had himself exposed in an interview soon after he was forced to resign as deputy leader in late 2012. It was on the fourth floor that certain decisions were taken, with Farrugia said that he was not privy to.

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He said that Keith Schembri had access to that floor, which needed a special code to enter. Farrugia said that whenever he tried to go there, he always found it locked.

Farrugia also said that he was not in the loop on the PL's plans in the energy sector. 

Previous sittings before the inquiry, led by retired judge Michael Mallia, saw the testimony of the closest relatives to the journalist, who was killed in a car bomb on 16 October 2017. These included her parents, husband, sons and sisters.

Apart from Judge Mallia, the other two members of the inquiry board are former chief Justice Joseph Said Pullicino and Madam Justice Abigail Lofaro.

Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia are representing the Caruana Galizia family.

The public inquiry resumes on Thursday at 2.20pm.

3.11pm: That concludes Anglu Farrugia's testimony.  The three Judges on the board also leave the courtroom.  Former Police Comissioner John Rizzo testified after Farrugia. His testimony may be found here

3.10pm: Therese Commodini Cachia asks whether the board thinks that the Speaker would be more comfortable in naming names in a confidential manner.  Farrugia replies that this is not necessary - he states that he only mentioned Sandro Chetcuti because he saw him regularly, before noting that if people enter the party headquarters it is not necessarily to meet at the fourth floor.  The board reminds the Speaker that if he wishes to give details in confidence he can do so, but the Speaker says that he has no further details to give.

3.08pm: Judge Said Pullicino asks if Farrugia has anything to get off his chest, this was the time to do so.  Farrugia states that one must always be careful that in spite of always being correct in how one treats a person, one should not take it for granted that the person will display the same correctness. This was something he had told Chris Cardona recently when he had asked for parliament's protection, Farrugia said.

3.06pm: Azzopardi asks Farrugia about his article in which he spoke of "political murder". "Well, you have a person in a high position in the party who ends up without a role right before the election... it's clear," Farrugia says.

3.05pm: Azzopardi asks whether Farrugia had trusted Keith Schembri, but the question is stopped by the inquiry board.

3.04pm: Azzopardi asks whether Franco Debono, then a PN MP, had been sent to a debate by the Labour Party instead of him. Farrugia confirms this, saying that Joseph Muscat had decided that Debono should go instead of him (Farrugia). Azzopardi asks whether there had been any talk of selling passports, while he was deputy leader.  Farrugia states that nobody had ever told him about it. Azzopardi asks Farrugia to confirm that as Deputy Leader he had not been asked to accompany Joseph Muscat to trips in Libya in 2010 and in China.  Farrugia states he did not go to Libya out of principle.  He notes that Muscat had never asked him to go to Libya.  He states that he has never been to China, and questions even whether Muscat had gone himself.

3pm: Azzopardi asks whether Farrugia had been informed or concluded by himself where the money for the electoral campaign was coming from. Farrugia replies that he did not know, and notes that when one leaves a political party they have very few people who remain by their side.

2.58pm: Azzopardi asks whether Farrugia had ever seen people like Neville Gafa and Konrad Mizzi on the fourth floor when he was Deputy Leader. "I saw them at the party HQ. I wouldn't know about the fourth floor, because whenever I reached it, it was locked." Azzopardi asks whether while Farrugia was deputy leader, Keith Schembri had a role in the party and why he had access to the fourth storey.  Farrugia replies that Schembri did have access to the fourth floor. Azzopardi asks whether Farrugia thinks that Schembri was "running the show" in relation to the 2013 election. When an election was called it was after he had resigned, Farrugia said.  He said that he lived the campaign as an outsider, but realised that Labour had a strong campaign.

2.56pm: Jason Azzopardi asks whether he recalls correctly that Farrugia had been a candidate for the Labour Party in 1996 on condition that the government implements a law wherein an inquiring magistrate could investigate something out of their own will, and which had only reached the first reading stage.  This is the "super magistrate" role.  Farrugia states that Alfred Sant had been very much in favour, but notes that as far as  he knows it had not moved forward because it did not have the backing of the PN - the bill would have required a 2/3s majority to pass.

2.50pm: Judge Said Pullicino asks whether Farrugia was ready to give them any more hard facts, with Judge Lofaro again asking for names. Farrugia does not provide any names.  That concludes the questions from the inquiry board, but Jason Azzopardi has a list of questions which he has now passed onto the board.

2.48pm: Judge Mallia asks whether Farrugia had ever seen Yorgen Fenech at the party headquarters. "When I used to go to the fourth floor I would find the door locked", Farrugia replies. He never saw Fenech there.

2.46pm: Judge Said Pullicino speaks of allegations against the government which began "almost from day one" after Labour won the election and questions whether Farrugia ever had the thought that these had been discussed beforehand.  Judge Mallia adds to that and asks whether, knowing the details that he knew today, Farrugia had any thoughts of such a possibility. Farrugia notes that he had resigned in 2012 and that this had happened afterwards, and that Konrad Mizzi had emerged as a strong contender and presented his energy plan only after he had resigned, having even taken his place on the fourth district.

2.43pm: Judge Said Pullicino asks whether Farrugia agrees that there were problems within the party which could have led to corruption. Farrugia replies that he believes that when there are people in the party with whom you are not comfortable and who want something from the party, then there is the potential for problems.

2.40pm: "I received threats, even a written letter. John Rizzo, the former commissioner of police knows... You have a hierarchy, a leader and a deputy leader. The deputy leader is supposed to be the long arm of the leader and I wasn't..." Farrugia says.

2.37pm: Farrugia says that he was not involved in discussions between the party and businessmen.

2.36pm: Judge Said Pullicino asks therefore if he knew of projects which had been agreed upon before the election. Farrugia recalls a story from his childhood in 1962 when his father was fined 5 shillings for naming his pharmacy in Maltese, and notes his father telling him to stick to what he believed in.  Said Pullicino interjects and asks whether he (Farrugia) did not feel comfortable in those surroundings, to which Farrugia states that this is correct. 

2.35pm: Farrugia speaks of how he was never allowed to be involved in discussions on projects.  He said that he had never been informed, for instance, precisely how the party's energy plan was going to work. He said that the example is to show that he was un-involved and therefore does not know of individuals with whom the party had spoken to. "One of the incidents that hurt me a lot was related to energy. When I was deputy leader, I was never informed of how the energy plan would be implemented in detail. When I went on Xarabank, a TV programme, before resigning, somebody asked me if we were going to reduce energy bills and I wrongly said no... I was very short on detail."

2.32pm: Asked whether Keith Schembri used to be present at the headquarters at this point, Farrugia replied in the affirmative - with Judge Said Pullicino noting that he too was a big businessman and not politically exposed at the time.

2.30pm: Farrugia says that it was clear that the Labour party had backing in the 2013 election.  He says however that the only person whom he can recognise as regularly visiting the party's headquarters was Sandro Chetcuti, while also noting that he had no access to the headquarter's fourth floor.

2.26pm: Farrugia says that he had said what he said and nobody had ever denied it or asked him to withdraw that.  He says that he was very clear - he was making what was bothering him very clear.  He said that he had been asked to resign and had been asked to do so while he was abroad. He delves into the reasons as to why he had resigned, explaining the context to remarks he had passed on Magistrate Audrey Demicoli.

2.23pm: Judge Said Pullicino interjects, saying that he had spoken of values and how they had changed, noting that there must have been something extremely serious for him to have resigned from the party and adding that one issue he had mentioned was the close ties between the party and the business.  He said that he wanted to see the extent of this connection, asking Farrugia again to identify people where possible.

2.18pm: "I never supported Muscat.  When he ran for leader I didn't endorse him," Farrugia says before continuing that he did not agree with Muscat's style. “When Muscat became leader, I wasn't his favourite and I was deputy leader. I was concentrating on parliamentary work. I did a lot of work to bring Mintoff's people back into the fold,” Farrugia says. The one time he had met Muscat (before he became leader) was when he was at the European Parliament and dealt with some cases concerning Eddie Fenech Adami.  One thing about which he had spoken with Muscat was to see that if the Labour Party was to reach government, all injustices must be addressed.

2.16pm: Judge Said Pullicino tells the Speaker that after his resignation from the party it seemed that he had genuine concerns about how the party was being led.  "I was brought up in an environment where money wasn't everything", the Speaker says. He continues by recalling that when he entered the Labour Party the second time after his time in the police force in 1996, that despite certain differences he had with then leader Alfred Sant, there was always continuity with what he believed in within the party.

2.13pm: Farrugia, who was then deputy leader of the PL, says that businessmen would come with €50 and €20 donations "but I would refuse them.”

2.10pm: Farrugia speaks of a time when he was on the Committee for Parliamentary Affairs, and left the office at 11pm. He recalls seeing one person whom he did not know in the headquarters, and said that this person was not someone who is a party delegate or had anything to do with the party.

2.07pm: Pushed to mention names, Farrugia mentions MDA President Sandro Chetcuti. Pushed further as to whether there were any other people of note, Farrugia seems reluctant to mention other people, saying only that these were not delegates and it was unusual to see them at the party's headquarters.

2.06pm: Farrugia notes that a question had been posed as to the values of the Labour Party. He said that he had seen some movement within the party which had bothered him, mentioning how he had seen "certain people" entering the headquarters and met on the "fourth floor".  He notes that these were people who he had never seen within the party.

2.04pm: Judge Mallia takes the Speaker back to 2013, recalling a media interview where he had spoken of his (Farrugia's) preoccupation with the Labour Party and their ties with businesses. Mallia states that given what we know today, this declaration is of note and questions the Speaker as to whether he can expand on that remark.

2.01pm: The three judges on the inquiry have entered the courtroom, and court is in session. Speaker Anglu Farrugia will testify first. He is accompanied by law professor Ian Refalo.

1.56pm: The court room has opened and the Caruana Galizia lawyers have walked in.

1.51pm: Former police chief John Rizzo, who is also expected to testify, is also present.

1.50pm: Daphne's parents are waiting for the courtroom to open.

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