[WATCH] Asked about Electrogas, Abela reveals reservations on Caruana Galizia public inquiry

‘I think the inquiry is an experiment that I have certain reservations about on the way the inquiry is failing to keep to the terms of reference given to it’

Robert Abela addressed a Cabinet meeting in Gozo
Robert Abela addressed a Cabinet meeting in Gozo
Asked about Electrogas, Abela reveals reservations on Caruana Galizia public inquiry

Prime Minister Robert Abela has admitted today that he holds certain reservations over the terms of reference for the Daphne Caruana Galizia inquiry.

Abela, who recently extended the inquiry’s mandate till December 2020, commented that he had his own doubts on the way it is being carried out, when asked by MaltaToday about whether allegations of corruption on the Electrogas power plant merit a public inquiry of its own.

“I think the inquiry is an experiment that I have certain reservations about on the way the inquiry is failing to keep to the terms of reference given to it,” he remarked.

When confronted about a public inquiry into the Electrogas deal, Abela assured that an inquiry, in any situation, will take place using the relevant traditional institutions if deemed necessary. “I believe that our institutions are working in a sufficient way. I am satisfied with the way our institutions are working and the changes we’ve made,” he said.

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat gave the initial go-ahead for a public inquiry into the Caruana Galizia murder in December 2019, with the inquiry board given a nine-month deadline to reach a conclusion. In light of the closure of law courts during the COVID-19 pandemic, the inquiry board wrote to the Prime Minister in the hope of receiving a deadline extension. In response, Robert Abela granted a one-time extension until mid-December of this year.

The decision by Abela to impose this extension was met with harsh criticism. The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation argued that the terms of reference illustrate clearly that it was within the board’s remit alone to decide when the work is complete, with the deadline automatically extended if the board feels that more time is needed.

Council of Europe rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt had his own concerns over the manner, saying that the inquiry’s independence “must include the exclusive competence to order its own business.” Independent candidate Arnold Cassola also wrote to President George Vella, asking him to step in and ensure that the inquiry is given all the time needed to complete its work.

The Caruana Galizia family had filed a formal objection to the Prime Minister’s decision with the board, with the Inquiry head confirming that the Prime Minister will be notified of the submission.

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