[WATCH] Labour faces its guilty verdict in House debate on Caruana Galizia inquiry

Parliament debates outcome of Caruana Galizia public inquiry as Opposition accuses Labour side of responsibility for assassination

A parliamentary debate centred around the public inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia took place this morning, with MPs discussing the conclusions of the report published on Thursday.

The discussion kicked off at 9:15am, with Prime Minister Robert Abela giving the first address. He spoke about the need for dialogue, but ultimately defended the raft of reforms implemented under his administration.

"The way the State functions today isn't even recognisable from how it was in January 2020," he said. "The State that the inquiry evaluated works completely different today."

He mentioned changes in the appointment of judges, of the police commissioner, and of the President. "These are concrete reforms that are not easy to implement, but here we are."

Abela touched on the topic of journalism, and said that the profession needs to see full support.

Despite warning in the inquiry report about the intimacy between government and big business, Abela remarked that business isn't a plague. He reiterated that businesses will find complete support in his government so that they can continue functioning. 

Opposition leader Bernard Grech was more scathing of the Labour reforms, hitting out at Abela for using his discussion time to praise his own government. 

"The Prime Minister is out of touch with reality. It's evident that he wants us to forget what we've lived through over the past years," Grech said. "He tells us he's new, but in reality he's spent years defending the bad."

Grech said that the Labour Party demonised Caruana Galizia and instead protected criminals "like an octopus that took full control over the institutions".

"The laws look good on paper, but in reality, Labour's continuity candidate is still defending, or rather, is too scared to not defend, Joseph Muscat," he added.

The Opposition leader expressed full solidarity with the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia, and mentioned his cousin Karin Grech, who was killed via letter bomb.

"When I look at the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia, I remember the battle my family endured," he said. 

Grech added that members of government ought to bear the collective responsibility on the issue, while singling out Owen Bonnici, Michael Farrugia, and Edward Scicluna for allowing dubious government decisions to pass by under their watch.

'This is our house, the public’s house' - Manuel Delia

Meanwhile, police officers denied activists and members of the public entry to the Strangers’ Gallery at Parliament this morning. 

Repubblika members and the press were kept out of the Parliament building without explanation today, as parliament met to discuss the findings of the Public Inquiry published yesterday.

Prominent activist Manuel Delia attempted to reason with the sergeant in front of the metal barricade. “This is our house, the public’s house. You can’t keep the public out,” Delia told the officer.

Eventually, a senior officer came down and said that the house was “closed” and that they were just enforcing the rules. Requests to speak to the person who made the rules or a representative of the parliament’s administration were rebuffed.

Delia told this newspaper that when they had written to the Clerk of the House yesterday, he had refused to permit them to observe the sitting, citing COVID-19 as the reason. 

The group had replied, pointing out that different circumstances applied since the last time that reason had been given.

“We will take it to the Constitutional Court,” Delia said.