The Malta Independent 6 June 2023, Tuesday
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‘Malta's investigation of high-level corruption remains lengthy,’ European Parliament hears

Albert Galea Thursday, 30 March 2023, 12:09 Last update: about 3 months ago

Malta featured in a rule of law debate held at the European Parliament on Thursday morning, with European Commissioner Vera Jourova saying that while there have been good reforms done in the country  it was still worrying that investigations into high-level corruption remain lengthy.

Malta was added to the rule of law debate at the request of the European People’s Party in reaction to action which is being taken against author Mark Camilleri for leaking WhatsApp chats between Labour backbencher Rosianne Cutajar and alleged Daphne Caruana Galizia murder mastermind Yorgen Fenech in violation of a court-ordered ban.


When speaking about Malta, European Commissioner Vera Jourova said that the last Commission report reflects that a number of reforms started in 2020 and have continued to be implemented throughout 2022.

These reforms, in particular the one on the appointment of members of the judiciary, have contributed to strengthening the independence of the justice system in Malta, Jourova told the European Parliament.

Challenges, however, still remain, she said.  She cited the efficiency of the justice system and the length of court proceedings, saying that both of these have “continued to deteriorate.”

Several initiatives are ongoing to improve the matter, and the Commission has in fact recommended in its 2022 report that these measures are strengthened, she continued.

“Although there has been an increase of resources diverted towards investigative and prosecutorial bodies, investigation of high-level corruption remains lengthy,” she said.

“Results in terms of final judgements are still lacking and remain a cause for concern,” she concluded, before addressing specific concerns on Greece and Spain, which are the other countries subject to Thursday’s motion.

Jourova said that the European Commission is currently preparing its fourth report, which it is planning to adopt in July, and is currently carrying out country visits across the European Union. 

PN MEP David Casa, who forms part of the European People’s Party, meanwhile told the European Parliament that where Malta is concerned, things have “been going from bad to worse.”

He said that the institutions are under the thumbs of those in power, and that those who were meant to serve the people are instead profiting off families and workers.

More than five years have passed since Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered to silence her and “stop her from outing the present government,” he said.

“Five years have passed, and how many have been found guilty of the crimes she uncovered? Nobody,” he continued.

He referred to the recent annulment of the Steward hospitals concession by a court, saying that a court had ruled that the biggest public contract for the sale of these hospitals had been ruled as a fraud.

“They even profit on the sick,” Casa said of the government.

He said that investigations which aren’t related to corruption are carried out at lightning speed, and referred to the recent leak of WhatsApp chats between Labour backbencher Rosianne Cutajar and alleged Daphne Caruana Galizia murder mastermind Yorgen Fenech as an example of this.

“In this case, the police took action against the author, not against the corrupt,” Casa said, referring to the fact that the police were ordered by the court to investigate the person who leaked the chats – author Mark Camilleri, who published them on the eve of a libel sitting after Cutajar sued him and denied that she had a relationship with Fenech.

Casa called on the European Commission to carry out its duties as per the necessary treaties in order to protect the Maltese and prosecute the corrupt.

Casa was immediately followed by Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba, who forms part of the S&D group, who decried the PN MEP’s speech, saying that Malta has become the “easiest way” for the EPP to divert attention from “real rule of law issues.”

He said that MEPs such as Casa repeat “recycled information and misinformation like today.”

“Malta is being attacked again because, according to the rule of law crusaders, the courts have no right to protect documents which will lead to justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia,” Agius Saliba said.

He said that the EPP wants the Parliament to condemn Malta’s national courts and said that leaked documents which shouldn’t have been published had in fact been published.

“At the same time, the EPP is trying to protect a Greek government which was caught spying on the country’s Opposition leader.  The EPP managed to turn today’s vote into a farce,” Agius Saliba said.

Sophie In’t Veld from the Renew Europe group and an MEP who has led rule of law delegations to Malta in the past meanwhile was highly critical of Malta’s rule of law record.

“Despite the reforms, there has been no change in political culture.  Journalists are still under pressure, justice is still weak, crimes from the past are still unprosecuted, and golden passport on sale, old crimes still unprosecuted,” she said.

Referring to the “sell-out” of hospitals in Malta – a reference to the Steward deal – In’t Veld said that “corruption is poison and it flourishes if the rule of law is weak.” 

In’t Veld was the only foreign MEP to address the rule of law situation in Malta during the debate.

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