[WATCH] Carmelo Abela non-committal on defamation suit against Degiorgio brothers

Minister Carmelo Abela is asked whether he will be suing brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio over claims he was involved in the 2010 HSBC heist • PM stands by minister, accuses PN of being in cahoots with criminals

Minister Carmelo Abela denies claims being made by two murder suspects that he was involved in the HSBC heist of 2010
Minister Carmelo Abela denies claims being made by two murder suspects that he was involved in the HSBC heist of 2010

Carmelo Abela is non-committal on whether he will open libel proceedings against murder suspects George and Alfred Degiorgio over claims the minister was involved in the HSBC heist.

The OPM Minister was specifically mentioned in a letter to the European Commission the brothers sent, complaining of Cabinet’s conflict of interest when denying them a pardon.

When asked whether he would file a defamation suit, Abela insisted that what action he will take will be known in the future but accused the Nationalist Party of being in cahoots with criminals.

He again denied any involvement, insisting the claims are untrue.

In their letter, the brothers, who are charged with committing Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, alleged that Abela was crucial to providing information and equipment to help criminals carry out the daring hold-up on HSBC headquarters in 2010. At the time, Abela was a manager with access to equipment that produced the access cards.

Abela has denied the accusations, insisting he never knew the people making the claims.

This is the first time that the Degiorgio brothers have indicated Abela’s name publicly.

Asked about the claims, Abela said it was becoming clearer that there was a coordinated strategy between the criminals and the Nationalist Party.

Abela has filed a defamation case against Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi, who was the first to publicly draw a link between Abela and the information supplied by the murder suspects.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Robert Abela said the letter sent to Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders “changed nothing from the Nationalist Party’s position of being in cahoots with criminals”.

Abela was asked whether the minister should resign from Cabinet pending the conclusion of police investigations into the matter. The Prime Minister continued to defend his minister, insisting the PN was working with people accused of serious crimes to secure them a pardon.

He reiterated that the “alleged criminals” are doing everything to “buy their pardon and this plan included the PN”.

The Prime Minister said the government had done everything in its power to bring to justice those involved in the murder of Caruana Galizia and bring an end to organised crime.

David Thake gets no replies from Abela

During parliamentary question time this evening, Opposition MP David Thake asked Carmelo Abela whether he would be suing the Degiorgio brothers and whether he felt his position was still tenable.

Abela skirted the question, insisting the allegations were a complete fabrication. The exchange degenerated into a shouting match between both sides.

Opposition MP David Thake
Opposition MP David Thake

Thake persisted in asking the question a second time but Abela accused "some on the Opposition side" of regularly talking to criminals unlike himself.

In a third attempt, Thake asked Abela whether he spoke to the Prime Minister on the matter with the minister insisting that he spoke regularly with the PM.

Abela insisted that what legal action he took and when was up to him and would not be taking Thake's advice on the matter.

READ ALSO: ‘Prime Minister should remove Carmelo Abela pending police heist investigation’ – Bernard Grech