The Malta Independent 14 July 2020, Tuesday

Azzopardi to summon ‘tens’ of witnesses to show ‘who is telling the truth’

Tuesday, 30 June 2020, 18:10 Last update: about 13 days ago

PN MP Jason Azzopardi said he will be summoning “tens” of witnesses before Parliament’s Privileges Committee to prove that he was telling the truth when he said Joseph Muscat called an early election in 2017 because he knew Daphne Caruana Galizia was going to be killed.

Speaker Anglu Farrugia found Azzopardi’s comments from last week to be in breach of parliamentary privilege, but the Nationalist MP, undeterred, said he would be summoning witnesses in his defence, some of them from within Corradino prison.

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In a Facebook post, Azzopardi said he had been asked why he had not retracted his statement when requested by the Speaker. There is more than one reason, he said.

The first was that he had been saying the same thing, both inside and outside of Parliament, for the past two years.

He said that, when he spoke in Parliament last week, he mentioned two “facts” that had emerged on the same day from the courts.

“I realise that these facts were knew to the public and shocked many, but this does not mean that they are not true. God forbid that an MP is not allowed to interpret them in a logical and natural way,” he wrote.

When his case ends up before the Privileges Committee, Azzopardi said, he will be summoning tens of witnesses, including some who are currently being held in prison. “Then we will see who is telling the truth.”

In a statement also uploaded after the Speaker’s ruling, Muscat said it was clear that Azzopardi had abused his parliamentary privilege.

“The ruling leaves no room for interpretation and also shows that the lie levelled against me goes against all sense of justice,” he said.

Muscat again said he is ready to allow harsh criticism but insisted he could not this lie slide.

He said that, while he was able to ask for parliamentary protection as an MP, there are many others out there who do not have the same remedy.

Muscat said the time has come to do away with the concept of Parliamentary immunity, especially when this is abused by MPs. The government’s electoral manifesto, in fact, includes a pledge to remove the parliamentary privilege.

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