The Malta Independent 26 May 2024, Sunday
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‘A grave moment in our country’s history’ – Repubblika announces protest with NGOs

Andrea Caruana Tuesday, 14 May 2024, 10:18 Last update: about 12 days ago

A national demonstration has been announced for next Thursday by Repubblika in a novel collaboration with 16 other NGOS based on 4 principles: condemnation of attacks by public officials, a call for resignations, support for those who do their duty and resistance against the undermining of the Vitals magisterial inquiry.

Addressing the media in front of the law courts on Tuesday, Repubblika honorary president Robert Aquilina said that in May of 2019, 5 years ago, Repubblika had asked the courts to open a magisterial inquiry on the sale of the people’s hospitals. He said that this alleged fraud was done with money that was meant to provide healthcare to the people and, according to the inquiring magistrate, went into the pockets of corrupt politicians and individuals close to them.

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Aquilina said that these last 2 weeks, the public found out that based on the conclusions of the inquiry, a number of prominent government officials, including an ex-prime minister, are facing criminal charges. He said that this fact alone shows that “this is a grave moment in our country’s history”, however, he added that it is equally grave that Joseph Muscat attacked the inquiring magistrate and, even more serious, that the Prime Minister “obscenely” attacked the courts, journalists and civil society.

Repubblika understands its responsibility, Aquilina said, and that it was necessary to build a national movement, made up of a wide range of society, to take on this national challenge. He said that it is with satisfaction that he announces that a 16 organizations and bodies have taken the decision to support Repubblika’s action in light of the magisterial inquiry into the hospitals.

Aquilina said that these NGOs will join Repubblika in its stance based on four fundamental points.

First, the condemnation of the obscene attacks against the judiciary, especially on the inquiring magistrate, as well as journalists. He said that this is deemed to be a very serious matter that is anti-democratic, more so that they were perpetrated by the Prime Minister and Minister for Justice. He added that these attacks are a danger to the judiciary, journalists and members of civil society who worked on this case.

Aquilina said that these attacks have one goal: to scare everyone who has a public or professional duty to serve in this regard, to the point that the accused will be able to evade justice. 

Aquilina said the second point is the common belief and insistence that political and institutional responsibility must be taken for all that which has resulted from the magisterial inquiry. He added that this means, for example, that it is unacceptable that Edward Scicluna maintains his role as the Governor of the Central Bank.

Aquilina said Scicluna is acting in a way that will drag the country’s reputation to the detriment of the employment of Maltese workers. He said that this is not in the national interest nor in the interest of the common good or even correct that someone with very serious criminal accusations is allowed to keep public office. He added that if these people do not have the decency to resign of their own accord, then it should be the Prime Minister who takes away their positions immediately.

In the third point, Aquilina said that they offer support and salute public officials who are doing their duty with integrity and loyalty to the oaths of their appointment. He said that they are aware that they are doing this with sacrifice and at great personal risk, and so, he promised that they “will be their shield”.

Finally, Aquilina warned that they will not allow the inquiry to be undermined after hearing the Prime Minister say, “as though he was the emperor of these islands”, that the conclusions of the inquiry don’t mean anything to him. He said that this is an act of sabotage of an inquiry that cost the Maltese people €10 million and went on to warn politicians that it will not accept a prime minister, ministers, government etc who appear to work in favour of criminal interests as opposed to the public interest.

Aquilina said that they will not allow the Police Commissioner and Attorney General to proceed in this case as they did in the case of Pilatus Bank by which they conspired to undermine the magisterial inquiry which required 5 people to be taken to court however, ultimately, only one was charged.

Aquilina went on to announce that this week, on Thursday 16 May, they will be taking the first step together by calling all Maltese of good will to join them in a national demonstration, organized by Repubblika, with the support of the other NGOs, at 6.30pm from the front of the Wembley Store to the Law Courts. He added that the chosen slogan is “NINGĦAQDU GĦAL MALTA NADIFA” and encouraged attendees to bring with them Maltese flags.

Aquilina said that the demonstration will be significantly held on the 16th of the month in order to honour Daphne Caruana Galizia who was the first to notice and expose the corruption and fraud of the hospitals. He added that the people are called to defend their country and send a message for justice as we are at a national crossroads.

On being questioned by The Malta Independent, if the omission by the Prime Minister to appoint a new deputy prime minister, following Chris Fearne’s resignation from the post, as a partisan move, Aquilina answered that they want to give authorities a chance to take action. He said that they are not included in the process to announce a new deputy prime minister, however, the prime minister’s behaviour these last few months regarding the judiciary is worrying and it does not believe he is working in the interest of the Maltese people.

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