[WATCH] Robert Abela says he will not request Edward Scicluna's resignation despite criminal charges

Robert Abela hinted at a comprehensive reform into how magisterial inquiries are conducted following claims that people accused in connection to the Vitals deal were not interrogated and had not known that they were being investigated

Prime Minister Robert Abela was fielding journalists' questions on Tuesday
Prime Minister Robert Abela was fielding journalists' questions on Tuesday

Prime Minister Robert Abela has stuck his neck out for ex-finance minister Edward Scicluna, as he stated that he won’t request his resignation as Central Bank governor despite fraud charges against him.

As he fielded journalists’ questions on Tuesday, Abela reiterated his stance on Scicluna, justifying it by stating that he was finance minister when the country’s finances were “on their knees in 2013,” and that he was involved in the economy’s growth since then. 

Citing Scicluna’s loyalty to the country, Abela said that the central bank governor has, “his full support.”

When asked whether Scicluna’s current position risks damaging Malta’s reputation, Abela invited the media to examine the magisterial inquiry’s contents to see if Scicluna’s charges were recommended, “purely because he was a minister.” The Prime Minister then said that one has to see if Scicluna even featured in the proces verbal, adding that, “there one will come to his own conclusions.”

Abela repeatedly said that Scicluna’s possible resignation could not be compared to that of ex-DPM Chris Fearne’s. Noting once more that all accused benefit from the presumption of innocence, Abela noted that one has to wait and see if the magisterial inquiry was conducted with the same presumption in mind.

Abela hints at reforming magisterial inquiry procedures

Shifting his focus to the permanent secretaries who are to be charged in connection to the Vitals case, Abela said, “the first time that they knew about the inquiry was when they received the charges at home. They weren’t even heard during the magisterial inquiry. Is that how we want things done in this country?”

When Abela was asked whether this situation was acceptable, he said that he was “shocked” when he learned that some of the accused were never interrogated.

He noted that a “total revision” in the way that magisterial inquiries are conducted was one of the recommendations of the Venice Commission which government had not implemented.

“How can I close my eyes to this situation?”

Abela concluded by saying that what happened to the accused permanent secretaries can happen to anyone at any time.