‘I don’t want to disrupt ongoing inquiries’, cautious EU president on Muscat and Malta

European Council President Charles Michel said that he has not talked to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, so as to not disrupt the on-going inquiries into the case

European Council President Charles Michel said he did not want to interfere with any ongoing inquiries in the Caruana Galizia probe
European Council President Charles Michel said he did not want to interfere with any ongoing inquiries in the Caruana Galizia probe

European Council President Charles Michel said he had held back from talking about the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination probe with outgoing Prime Minister Joseph Muscat so as to not disrupt any ongoing inquiries.

Michel said he had written to the Caruana Galizia family, promising them that the European Union would do everything in its power to bring justice to the family.

The Council president was asked by a journalist whether he had discussed the issue with Muscat, and what action he plans to take on the case, which has seen former chief of staff Keith Schembri resign after being accused by alleged mastermind Yorgen Fenech, who stands charged with having commissioned the hit.

“At the moment inquiries are ongoing, and it is logical that we don’t speak about the case, so as to not have any interference with the investigation,” Michel said.

He also confirmed that he is in contact with the family of the assassinated journalist, and stated that he is ready to meet them when he comes to Malta.

In a separate press conference, Dutch PM Mark Rutte said that like-minded EU leaders were reluctant to issue a joint declaration on concerns about the rule of law in Malta, fearing that it could play into the country’s hands if the EU skips steps in the procedure.

“Although many countries share concerns about rule of law on the island, it’s first up to the Commission, as guardian of the treaties, to investigate it,” the Dutch prime minister said.

Rutte also said that if the Council, or even part of it, rushes though a declaration, it could play in Malta’s hands. “They’d be able to say: ‘You see, they’ve drawn their conclusions before procedures have been decided,” he said.

On Thursday Rutte was quoted in saying that he would keep an eye on Malta. He also held a one-on-one meeting with Muscat.

“I have emphasized to him that, pending his departure as prime minister, it is important that a separation of his office in Malta and the further prosecution [of the murder] is guaranteed, that this is crucial,” Rutte said on Thursday.

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