A Malian asylum seeker was beaten to death by members of the Armed Forces of Malta, who are now under arrest and pending prosecution.
The Nationalist Party has reacted to criticism by Opposition leader Joseph Muscat at the home affairs ministry over the death of a Malian asylum seekers in custody, accusing the Labour leader of scoring "cheap political points".
In a statement, the PN said the government had been prolific in effecting rescue missions for asylum seekers but accused Muscat of losing "no occasion in criticsing the government and try hard, unsuccessfully, to portray it as week in efforts to convince other EU member states on more effective burden-sharing mechanism."
"Government is doing its utmost, and with a high degree of success, to convince all EU member states on burden sharing, but never shall the Nationalist Party resort to populist declarations which are racist and xenophobic in nature. Where human life is concerned the Nationalist Party stands up to be counted. Now, Muscat the cheek to call a PN statement expressing its concern about racism as 'scoring cheap political points'. Unbelievable," PN communications director Frank Psaila said.
Opposition leader Joseph Muscat said Sunday morning that the country had been shocked by the death of the Malian migrant while under protective custody of soldiers from the Armed Forces of Malta.
The Prime Minister is now the minister of home affairs, taking on the portfolio previously stewarded by Carm Mifsud Bonnici before he resigned after being ousted in an Opposition motion supported by government MP Franco Debono.
"The country is shocked. We have to be careful when commenting on such events. First of all, it is a condemnable act. It is not simply a racist act. This person was under protective custody of Armed Forces," Muscat said.
Muscat said this was not the first act of its kind during this legislature and mentioned the deaths of Nicholas Azzopardi who died while under police custody and Stephen Spiteri who was found dead in his cell from an overdose after being refused sleeping pills.
"We now have a manslaughter case where this migrant from Mali was under protective custody. We are not going to make any cheap accusations. We are simply looking for transparency and accountability by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi who is responsible for Home Affairs," Muscat said.
The death of the migrant was the result of inadequate training according to Muscat who added that the act could not be justified and the government should bear responsibility.
"It is a very worrying issue to me. There needs to be a clear investigation, not just of the case itself, but also a clear investigation of the process and all individuals involved," he said.