[WATCH] Chris Cardona to resign from PL deputy leader after Prime Minister asks him to leave

Robert Abela has asked Labour Party deputy leader Chris Cardona to resign, something he will be doing in the coming hours

Prime Minister Robert Abela has asked Labour deputy leader Chris Cardona to resign the party post
Prime Minister Robert Abela has asked Labour deputy leader Chris Cardona to resign the party post
Robert Abela has asked Chris Cardona to resign

Robert Abela has asked Chris Cardona to resign in the wake of court testimony that continues to implicate the Labour deputy leader in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.

The Prime Minister said that he spoke to Cardona and asked him to resign his party post.

Abela was speaking to MaltaToday outside Castille after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

“Over the past few hours I talked to Chris Cardona and communicated my wish that he no longer remains Labour Party deputy leader. He will be resigning in the coming hours and subsequently a contest for deputy leader will take place,” Abela said. 

Cardona’s name was mentioned multiple times in court testimony given by pardoned middleman Melvin Theuma during the compilation of evidence against murder suspect Yorgen Fenech.

The former minister’s name also cropped up yesterday during testimony given by Fenech business associate Johann Cremona.

Cardona is alleged to have paid for Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, using his canvasser, Anthony Chetcuti, known as il-Biglee, as the middleman with Alfred Degiorgio, one of the murderers.

Cardona and lawyer David Gatt are also alleged to have made €400,000 available to the murderers by the start of the jury.

Cardona has strongly denied all allegations, dismissing them as “nonsense, based on lies”.

READ ALSO: Yorgen Fenech told associate that ‘Biglee’ was Chris Cardona’s middleman in Daphne murder

In January, Cardona was not appointed to Cabinet by Abela and last April, he resigned from MP but retained his deputy leadership post.

Pressure has been mounting on Cardona to resign.

Last Sunday, Abela had said that he trusted Cardona to do the right thing but the former minister was quoted saying he will not resign.

The latest court testimony appears to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back as Cardona’s name was mentioned by a different witness.

In a Facebook post, Opposition leader Adrian Delia said that Cardona's resignation was not enough and the former minister must now be investigated.

Lawrence Cutajar investigation

Asked whether retaining former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar as a consultant to government last January was a mistake, Abela said the decision was based on the information at hand back then.

Cutajar was yesterday placed under formal investigation after the magistrate hearing the Fenech compilation of evidence ordered that he be investigated over allegations that he leaked sensitive information to Theuma.

Abela insisted, the magistrate’s decision showed that the country’s institutions were working.

READ ALSO: Magistrate orders investigation into former police chief Lawrence Cutajar

Cutajar resigned from police commissioner shortly after Abela became prime minister but was retained by the Home Affairs Ministry as consultant on mass events on the same pay.

The consultancy was suspended last week when Cutajar's name cropped up in court testimony and subsequently had the job terminated yesterday by the ministry after the magistrate's order to have him investigated.

In a comment by Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi, lawyer the Caruana Galizia family, the MP called for the interrogation, investigation and arraignment of Cardona should any criminal involvement be established.

“Robert Abela has known about these allegations, about Cardona and Lawrence Cutajar, before December because he was part of that long Cabinet meeting in December [which discussed the pardon for Melvin Theuma.

“In January Abela was given a briefing by police, with Byron Camilleri in attendance, where he was updated as a newly installed PM about the state of investigations. Notwithstanding that, why did Abela retain him as deputy leader and why did he make Lawrence Cutajar a ministry consultant?”