[WATCH] PM: Country must learn from Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder

Prime Minister Robert Abela tells supporters in Ħaż-Żebbuġ that government reforms are the best way to show its will in ensuring full justice for the slain journalist’s assassination

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

The country must learn from the “dark chapter” that is Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, Prime Minister Robert Abela told supporters on Sunday.

“Daphne Caruana Galizia’s homicide was among the darkest chapters of this country’s history, and we would be wrong if we think we can forget or erase that moment from Malta’s past,” he told supporters in Zebbug.

Five years ago, journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb outside her Bidnija home.

The two men accused of being the triggermen in the fatal 2017 car bombing pleaded guilty last Friday, nine hours into the start of their murder trial, just two days short of the fifth-year anniversary of the assassination.

George Degiorgio, 58, known as iċ-Ċiniż and his brother Alfred Degiorgio, 56, known as il-Fulu, pleaded guilty shortly after the midday break at 3pm, reversing their earlier plea of not guilty.

They were sentenced to a 40-year prison sentence, after their lawyers consulted the Attorney General.

He said Caruana Galizia’s murder does not symbolise the country or the values it believes in. “But we must learn from it, so that it does not repeat itself.”

“The biggest victims were the family. I could see the pain of a family that lost a mother when I spoke to them, even after the public inquiry report,” he said.

The PM said the country had to send a message that what happened is not acceptable. “Last Friday’s court sentence was another step towards full justice.”

He praised the court reforms carried out by government over the past two and a half years, saying they showed government’s intent in ensuring justice is properly served in Malta. “More still needs to be done.”

“I believe that these reforms are the biggest message we can send to show what happened five years ago is not acceptable and will not be tolerated,” Abela told those present.

Abela also made reference to a number of other reforms such as those in the journalistic sector, and amendments to the criminal code. Parliament will tomorrow be discussing amendments to stop those facing major criminal charges from abusing the court system in an attempt to get out on bail.  

“To achieve all this you need political stability,” he said.

Budget preparations

The PM began his speech by comparing the economic situation in Malta to that in other European states, saying the realties they are facing are “completely different.”

“When participating in international fora, we hear talk of recession, food supply shortage, and the energy crisis,” he said. “But unlike them, because we have a determined government, we continue to have positive statistics.”

He said Malta is on track to reach its economic goals. “These are not just numbers on a paper, but people’s realities.”

“Unlike in other countries, social partners in Malta do not mention uncertainty, because we have taken the decisions which need to be taken by this administration. You see the synergy of the private sector’s aims, the requests by worker unions, and government’s plans. This will all come together in the Budget,” he said.

“This is the first of five budgets in this legislature where we will continue to implement the 1,000 proposals put forward in the last election.”

He stressed that financial stability must be in line with social stability, insisting social issues must not be put on the backburner because of economic challenges.

“Despite all the challenges brought about by the pandemic, our families continued to move forward,” Abela said.

Opposition woes

Speaking on the challenges faced by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic, Abela quoted an Auditor General reported which remarked on the “strong leadership shown by government during the time.”

“Imagine if we had the Opposition leading the country during the pandemic,” Abela said.

He mentioned an online spat between former PN leader Adrian Delia and Opposition leader Bernard Grech, after the latter had said on a Lovin Malta interview that the party was much better than it was two years ago.

“Imagine them taking the strategic decisions which make the difference in people’s lives,” Abela said. “The Opposition is going from bad to worse, and that is where our responsibility as a government becomes bigger.”