The Malta Independent 24 September 2023, Sunday
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Updated (2): 'Joseph Muscat’s place is in jail' – Repubblika in call for police to investigate

Sabrina Zammit Wednesday, 1 March 2023, 11:33 Last update: about 8 months ago

NGO Repubblika president Robert Aquilina on Wednesday described former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat as "the instigator" of a "corrupt hospitals privatisation deal" that was last week declared null by a court.

“Muscat and his accomplices’ place is in jail,” Aquilina said in a press conference in front of Muscat’s office. “It is crucial that those tainted by corruption, abuse and fraud, are prosecuted in court to be served justice.”

Aquilina went on to affix a poster “Joseph Muscat Prime Korrott” on the door of the office. Muscat had been named as the man of the year in organised crime and corruption by an international consortium of journalists in 2019, the year when he resigned.

Last week, a court annulled an agreement reached by the government for the transfer of three hospitals to the private sector. “It is unacceptable that no one has been forced to take neither political nor criminal responsibility for this abuse,” Aquilina said.

The NGO president Wednesday said that police commissioner Angelo Gala will be personally responsible if politicians involved in the Vitals scandal are not investigated.

“This is the office of the main character of the scandal Joseph Muscat” he said, adding that even after he was made to resign forcefully from his position that current Prime Minister Robert Abela still gave him a building from where he could work. 

Referring to Muscat as a person who always chickened out, Aquilina reminded how he has been calling JM a corrupt politician for the past two years and that he was also fighting a libel case agains the former prime Minister.

“Corrupt politicians’ place is nowhere else other than prison” he said. “It is crucial that those tainted by corruption, abuse and fraud, are prosecuted in court to be served justice.”

Aquilina accused Gafà and Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg of refusing to carry out their duties for an investigation of Muscat and former Labour minister Konrad Mizzi.

“Despite the ongoing magisterial inquiry started on Repubblika’s initiative, the Commissioner of Police is still obliged to investigate separately and carry out criminal investigations, which I am informed are not taking place. Gafà is following the line set by predecessor Lawrence Cutajar.”

He added that the hospitals' deal is a grave case “without any previous precedence” and an “abuse which is more disgusting than any other”.

Aquilina said that the almost €400 million taken from the deal have been put in the pockets of corrupt people instead of it being invested on “those sick people so they could receive the best treatment from Malta’s public hospitals.

“These four contracts have been negotiated and signed by this government with our money,” he said adding that “so it's useless for those complicit to say they are not involved”.

Referring the Daphne Caruana Galizia’s work into bringing the scandal to surface, he said that she was the one “who paid the highest price, that is with her life.”

Joseph Muscat replies

In a reply on Facebook, Muscat said that Aquilina - "who was outside my home when the police carried out a supposedly secret search" - has now appointed himself as prosecutor, judge and jury in the face of the rule of law "he always speaks about".

Aquilina has indicated that he knows what is happening in the magisterial inquiry, he said. This undermines the confidence in the procedure, Muscat said.

Aquilina is also ignoring the court judgment and the Auditor General's report, on the Vitals/Steward deal, Muscat said..

Muscat said that he welcomes any scrutiny because it will only confirm that he "always acted in the best interest of the country".



No rule of law without prosecution of Mizzi, Schembri and Muscat - Casa

In a statement, PN MEP David Casa said that "the fundamental metric on which the state of the rule of law in Malta must be assessed, is the level of progress of judicial proceedings against Mizzi, Schembri and Muscat."

He called for enhanced rule of law monitoring from the European Parliament and the European Commission. 

Casa said that the outcome of the hospitals' deal court case, "led to the annulment of the largest public contract in Maltese political history on the basis of fraud."

Casa said that attention should be paid to ongoing developments "and the impunity afforded to Maltese government figures when assessing the rule of law in Malta." He slammed the Maltese Government for "playing a prolonged game of smoke and mirrors with the promise of reforms" without getting "any closer to a functioning rule of law."

Casa said that concerns about the failure to prosecute corruption remain, "with the situation worsening since the European Parliament flagged the lack of progress on anti-corruption investigations in a widely-supported resolution last October."

"The people of Malta and Gozo have been swindled out of hundreds of millions of euro with the current administration continuing to funnel millions to the company, in question, even after it was amply clear that the deal was the result of rampant corruption", Casa told the Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group within the European Parliament as well as the European Commission. 
"The impunity afforded to high profile former operatives of the current administration must cease and the integrity of Malta's institutions must be restored so that they protect the people of Malta and of Gozo and not the criminals that swindled them. And until that happens such lack of progress should be taken into account for the purposes of rule of law monitoring and conditionality," concluded Casa.

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