The Malta Independent 4 October 2022, Tuesday
View E-Paper

Joseph Muscat cries foul as Frederick Azzopardi faces charges over illegal roadworks

Sunday, 7 August 2022, 12:58 Last update: about 3 months ago

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has jumped to the defence of former roads chief Frederick Azzopardi as he is set to face charges over illegal roadworks at Wied Qirda in Żebbuġ.

In 2019, Infrastructure Malta ignored a stop and compliance order issued by the Environment and Resources Authority over these illegal roadworks.

As a result, a lot of the ecological area was destroyed.

Following a legal letter sent to the police by independent candidate Arnold Cassola  and campaigners demanding an investigation into Azzopardi for allowing these works to proceed, Azzopardi is set to be charged in court with breaking environment protection laws, according to a report which appeared in the Times of Malta.

In response to this, Muscat – who has in past months complained about the apparent heavy handed approach by the country’s institutions – took to Facebook to express how this news makes him “sad and angry”.

“This mistaken decision carries consequences. Someone must be held responsible,” he said.

He further stated that Azzopardi “will be brought to Court, because he essentially did his job to have the infrastructure that is needed in our country”.

He called the prosecution of Azzopardi an “enormous stretch” and criticised the public office who were influenced by pressure “from the usual people.”

He continued by calling out to the people to make their voices heard, which he described as being “the sound of thousands”. He said that he wants to show that not only others can be vocal and criticise but so can they.

Muscat stated that he used to always defend the institutions, but, today feels that his “job is to defend the citizens from the institutions that give in to a little bit of pressure.”

However, he made it clear that he was not referring to the Labour Government, “but to individuals who rightly have the autonomy to take decisions”.

He described this prosecution as being a charade that is a “tick the box exercise” to pretend that some work is being done, all for the person to be released months or years later.

“But in the meantime, they preach and crucify people,” he said.

Muscat, particularly when he was Prime Minister, had long defended Malta’s institutions – even as they faced wide-ranging criticism for failing to act against major scandals involving people within his inner circle.

However he has changed tack in recent months, particularly after he himself was subject to an early morning police search at his home over an investigation connected to payments he took from one of a company linked to Steward Health Care – something he insists was for work he carried out after he resigned from Prime Minister and was not related to any projects in Malta.

No threat by Joseph Muscat is going to stop me from doing my duty towards our country – Arnold Cassola

Arnold Cassola noted how “disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has resorted to Facebook to rouse the rabble against "the usual people".”

“Well, I can assure Joseph Muscat that the "usual people" Arnold Cassola will not stop at ensuring that those who have ruined Malta's environment, reputation and honour are brought to book,” the vociferous independent candidate said in a statement to the media.

“The man who has allowed our country to be robbed by Electrogas, Vitals, AUM and Pilatus, whilst he continued to befriend a known suspected assassin, should hide his face in shame rather than appeal to the thousands of people who, he states, follow him,” Cassola said.

Cassola said that justice must be done not only with Joseph Muscat but also with all those whom he used “to rape our country environmentally and financially.”

“A true socialist should appeal to the masses to safeguard the common good of the Maltese people and not only when a relative of his is involved in misdeeds,” he said, before noting that “typical of Muscat’s lack of transparency”, he had failed to inform those thousand voices that Frederick Azzopardi is married to his cousin.

  • don't miss