Evarist Bartolo stands up to Joseph Muscat, says cabinet is being used as a 'smokescreen'

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that all agreements and decisions vis-à-vis the concession of the hospitals were approved by the cabinet

Evarist Bartolo and Joseph Muscat
Evarist Bartolo and Joseph Muscat

Former Labour minister Evarist Bartolo has defended himself from the hospitals’ deal fiasco and questioned whether it was right for his former boss Joseph Muscat to drag the cabinet into the mud.

Bartolo, a former education and foreign minister between 2013 and 2022 questioned whether it was right for his former leader Joseph Muscat, to blame the entire cabinet for the defunct hospitals' concessions deal.

"Is it right that the cabinet is used as a smokescreen?” Bartolo wrote on Facebook.

On Friday, Muscat said that all the agreements and decisions vis-à-vis the hospitals’ contract were approved by the cabinet that Bartolo was a member of.

In a landmark sentence on Friday, the court annulled all contracts awarded to Vitals and Steward in a damning ruling suggesting "fraudulent intent", and ordering all property to be returned to the government.

Muscat said at every stage of the hospital concession, “which included hospitals that had been abandoned or closed for years, were done with continuous discussions and documented decisions of the cabinet."

Bartolo had famously broken the silence on one of the major scandals that hit the Labour administration during his Muscat cabinet years, the Panama Papers.

“If it were me, I would never have anything to do with jurisdictions like Panama. In ancient times there were laws for gods and laws for animals. Are we animals?” Bartolo had said.

Former Energy and Health Minister Konrad Mizzi and former Muscat chief of staff Keith Schembri had each set up a secret Panama company after March 2013, with a corresponding trust in New Zealand.

On Friday, Bartolo told the Times of Malta that details of the hospitals’ deal were not discussed in Cabinet and that “the devil is in the details”.

Ever since he failed to get re-elected in the 2022 general election, Bartolo has not shied away from his critique of the Labour Party.