Muscat to Caruana Galizia: I apologised despite reservations on public inquiry

Former PM to Caruana Galizia family in exchange of letters over public inquiry aftermath: ‘family should accept Egrant inquiry conclusions’

Former PM and Labour leader Joseph Muscat
Former PM and Labour leader Joseph Muscat

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has insisted that he has apologised to the family of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia – but continues to ask that the family accept the conclusions of the Egrant inquiry.

In a letter to the Times of Malta on Tuesday, Muscat hit back at a previous letter penned by Peter Caruana Galizia, claiming the former Labour leader had only “nearly apologised” over the murder.

“In my interview with Times of Malta I did not ‘nearly apologise’ but I apologised, as is my duty as prime minister during whose tenure this heinous crime took place. I did not put any conditions to this statement,” Muscat wrote.

His exact words in the interview were as follows: “If they want an apology, I will make one, I won’t try to avoid that. Even though I’m the prime minister under whose leadership the alleged killers were caught. But that won’t bring their mother back.”

Muscat added that he apologised irrespective of any reservations he held about the inquiry, “and [irrespective of] the fact that one of its members had already expressed himself on the issue without making it known”.

He continued to defend himself, stating that he did not ask for an apology, but instead asked the family to accept the conclusions of the Egrant inquiry.

“What I asked for is that the family merely accept the conclusions of the independent inquiry which shows that the Egrant affair was a total frame-up on my family, consisting of forged signatures and contradictory statements.”

Last week, the Caruana Galizia family penned their own letter to the Times of Malta in response to a previous letter by the newspaper’s former deputy editor Roger Mifsud.

In his own previous letter of 30 August, Roger Mifsud blamed Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family for having the public inquiry now “mired in controversy”. He said the family had a free hand in choosing the judges on the inquiry board, in turn bringing the result of the judges’ deliberations into question.

Mifsud was referring to a judicial protest filed by former Labour deputy leader Joe Brincat, requesting the State Advocate to investigate the public inquiry with an inquiry of its own. Mifsud lashed out at the family’s choice of legal counsel, Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi. “To have as legal counsel a firebrand politician of the sort of Jason Azzopardi was inviting the outcome they have got,” Mifsud argued. “Why did they resort to such a controversial politician for a lawyer? They have fallen victim to his thinking. The surprise is that Daphne’s husband is himself a lawyer and he should have known better.”

In response, the Caruana Galizia family said that it had been targeted incessantly since 16 October 2017, even blamed for Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination. “Nothing surprises and shocks us anymore, however vicious, agenda-driven and nasty.”

The family reacted to that Mifsud’s remark on the board of inquiry, by insisting that it had been appointed “for better or worse” by the former prime minister. “Our duty as the victim’s heirs was to ensure it met the requirements of impartiality, effectiveness and independence, from both the government and the victim’s family.”

The public inquiry only saw the light of day after incessant pressure from the Council of Europe, the Caruana Galizia family, their lawyers and civil society groups. “The only controversy appears to be in Mifsud’s mind. Our prime minister and our president have both personally apologised to us and Joseph Muscat has nearly apologised, conditional on the ridiculous demand that we first apologise to him.”