Former Labour prime minister says he 'could never agree with a SOFA'

Former Labour prime minister Alfred Sant has made it clear he disagrees with a Status of Forces Agreement Malta may reach with the US

Labour MEP and former prime minister Alfred Sant
Labour MEP and former prime minister Alfred Sant

Alfred Sant is the next person to hit back at a Status of Forces Agreement allegedly under discussion between Malta and the United States.

Addressing claims made in the media, the MEP and former Labour prime minister said he "could never agree with a SOFA" citing sovereignty, independence and neutrality as key reasons.

"I always had a soft spot for the United States and its people; and I continue to have one. But I have a larger soft spot for the sovereignty of an independent and free Malta, and its neutrality," Sant said.

Sant gave a brief explanation of how a SOFA would affect jurisdiction and criminal prosecution of military personnel.

"Through SOFA, members of the American military present in the country, no matter what they do, cannot be brought before our courts to answer for crimes they may have committed, in line with our laws. Maybe they will be taken back to the United States to answer there for their actions under American law. Maybe," he wrote.

His remarks came just as the Foreign Ministry denied media reports that Cabinet had already given its go-ahead for an agreement.

Strangely, the denial came 12 hours after the Times of Malta report and Prime Minister Robert Abela's unclear statement this morning when confronted by journalists.

The Foreign Ministry denied the existence of a SOFA and insisted Malta was no closer to an agreement with US than it was before the whole ruckus erupted.

Sources close to government have told MaltaToday the administration was under pressure to reach a SOFA deal in return for US support on the Financial Action Task Force that will consider Malta's Moneyval test.

The ministry this evening reiterated what Abela said earlier that there was no link between SOFA and Moneyval.

Sant's reaction is representative of a section of Labour insiders who are uncomfortable with a deal that affords special status to the military personnel of another country.

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