Libya, Malta, oil smuggling and bombs

Smuggling from Libya is perhaps one of the few instances where phone tapping by the Maltese Secret Service could be justified

Libya is in turmoil and the authorities have no control over the country. Anarchy seems to be the order of the day.

Around a year ago, Prime Minister Muscat was gloating because he had reached an agreement with the then Libyan Prime Minister on procuring cheap oil for Malta.

Today, that Libyan Prime Minister has escaped from the country, the rebels control the greater part of it, and indeed most of its oil reserves.

Rather than giving cheap oil to Malta, the Libyans are in dire need of oil themselves.

What is happening is that the rebels in control are syphoning off the oil out of the country.

Now a couple of days ago, the Libyan Prime Minister today, Abdullah al-Thinni, declared that large amounts of fuel were being smuggled from Libya to Malta. MaltaToday has reported that this fuel is being exchanged for drugs and alcohol coming from Malta.

Maltese Foreign Minister George Vella has said that meetings are being held between senior security personnel in Malta and Libya to verify allegations of this fuel smuggling from Libya to Malta and that Malta will take all decisions necessary to curb such activities. The Maltese Security Services have also been alerted.

I believe this is a very responsible attitude on the part of the Maltese authorities. Of course, the Libyan authorities, despite all the concrete problems that they have to face in their country, should make a real effort to control the different types of racket, including oil smuggling and people trafficking, that are originating from their country.

But the Maltese authorities should also start asking themselves some questions.

The facts are that in the last few months the Maltese authorities have arrested two Maltese people in connection with the smuggling of diesel from Libya on their boats.

We have also had the recent killing of a person in Marsaxlokk, with a bomb planted under his car driver seat. This person is the owner and sole director of an oil importing company.

Some people have pointed out to me that some fishing boats in Marsaxlokk have now equipped their decks with domestic heavy-duty water tanks, one next to the other. Is it the intention of these fishermen to keep their catch alive when out on the high seas?

One question which maybe the authorities should also ask is: have there been in recent years any fishermen who have registered fuel companies? If in the affirmative, how many?

Is this perhaps one of the few instances where phone tapping by the Maltese Secret Service could be justified?

The answers to these questions could confirm or dismiss certain suppositions.