The Malta Independent 24 October 2020, Saturday

Omtzigt accuses Abela of ‘blatant political interference’ over comments on Daphne inquiry

Friday, 18 September 2020, 18:34 Last update: about 2 months ago

The Council of Europe rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt has accused Prime Minister Robert Abela of “blatant political interference” over public statements expressing reservations on the Caruana Galizia public inquiry.

Omtzigt was referring to comments made by Abela to MaltaToday, where the Prime Minister expressed reservations on whether the public inquiry was actually following its terms of reference – criticism which was later echoed by other Labour Party figures, including parliamentary whip Glenn Bedingfield.

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“The prime minister of a government that is subject to an inquiry should not seek to either determine the scope of the inquiry or to question its propriety. This is blatant political interference with its work,” said Omtzigt.

On Friday, Omtzigt addressed a letter to Abela and posted the letter on Twitter, he said that the Maltese government could not decide after the inquiry had begun that it should stop operating before its board decided that its terms of reference had been fulfilled.

Omtzigt was reacting to the news that the inquiry board was told by Prime Minister Robert Abela that a one-time deadline extension to 15 December for the Caruana Galizia inquiry would be granted.

“Less than a year after your predecessor belatedly agreed to establish the ‘independent public inquiry’ you and other leading members of the governing party seem to be engaged in a concerted attack on its credibility and integrity. This gives the impression that the government has something to hide and is willing to tolerate, condone and even defend impunity.”

He said that such a power to decide when the inquiry is to end could prevent the inquiry from hearing evidence that the government does not wish to hear, and is a clear violation of the inquiry’s independence.

He requested Abela to withdraw his purported limitation on the time frame for the inquiry’s work and to refrain from any future adverse comments on the inquiry, and “to ensure that other Labour Party politicians also refrain from any such comments,” added Omtzigt.

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