Micallef and Aquilina: Muscat loyalist and anti-corruption activist in Radju Malta confrontation

Jason Micallef and Robert Aquilina face off on Radju Malta’s Vi Jew Va over arraignment of former prime minister Joseph Muscat

Jason Micallef and Robert Aquilina
Jason Micallef and Robert Aquilina

One of former prime Joseph Muscat’s most loyal supporters, Jason Micallef, faced off with Repubblika honorary president Robert Aquilina on Radju Malta’s Vi Jew Va, insisting that the former Labour leader was innocent of all criminal allegations.

Muscat stands accused of money laundering and other charges, together with his former collaborators, in the Vitals-Steward hospitals PPP, a criminal trial stemming from Aquilina’s criminal report to Magistrate Gabriella Vella.

Micallef, formerly Labour secretary-general, hit out at Repubblika and Aquilina, accusing the latter and his associates of fomenting “obsessive” hatred towards Labour voters and Muscat.

“His lawyer, Jason Azzopardi, has long been stoking the flames. In one social media post he invoked his followers to treat Muscat’s arraignment as a ‘Bastille moment’. What is even that – does he want to burn down Valletta? You should disassociate yourself from Azzopardi… be a man, and condemn such statements.”

Frequently at each other’s throat, the two men’s confrontation was replete with barbs fired off at each other.

Micallef insisted that the magisterial inquiry itself has stated that no evidence yet existed of any payments to Muscat directly from the Vitals PPP.

Aquilina opined that it was explicitly suspected that Muscat had benefitted from payments masked in the form of services from Steward to the payroll company Accutor.

Micallef said Aquilina’s criticism was also based on a simple hatred of Muscat and his electoral success and against Labour. “Lawrence Gonzi was a prime minister and later allowed himself to act as a consultant for any private business he wanted… he can do it, but Muscat cannot, in Aquilina’s eyes.”

Micallef also accused Repubblika of deliberately avoiding any mention of Egrant, the secret Panama offshore company that Muscat was accused of owning. “The same experts appointed on the Vitals magisterial inquiry were the ones who carried out the Egrant investigation: and yet Repubblika say nothing of the fact that Maria Efimova, the alleged whistleblower, is wanted for perjury.”

Aquilina retorted that the court experts appointed by Magistrate Gabriella Vella had clearly stated that Joseph Muscat’s fingerprints are “all over the hospitals’ theft”.

“There are already two court sentences that have confirmed that the Vitals-Steward PPP took place through collusion and fraudulently, with direct involvement of government officials,” Aquilina said. “The inquiry we requested is to establish who these thieves were – the same court experts appointed in the Egrant case, have now pointed their finger at Joseph Muscat.”

Micallef accused Robert Aquilina, often addressing him as “the Curia’s notary” throughout the radio programme, of having taken extreme liberty in denigrating Muscat, his followers, or servants of the State that do not confirm to their whims.

“He has called the Attorney General ‘a pig’, he claims the Commissioner of Police has a problem with anger management… what kind of dialectic has this been anyway? The people in Valletta greeted Muscat in serenity and with love towards him… while Aquilina allowed himself to accuse Muscat of having ‘blood on his hands’, well in contempt of court, while we were congregated on the second floor of the courthouse. We could have reported him to the police there and then, but we didn’t…”

Aquilina said the police had thanked Repubblika for having been proactive in ensuring no incident take place on the day that Muscat was criminally arraigned for money laundering, amongst other charges, in connection with the Vitals hospital PPP.

“I never objected to the people who availed themselves of their right to protest, but in the way the protest took place – I would have wanted barriers to make the place safe enough for people to enter. It was Angelo Gafà personally, who instructed the police not to provide such procedures,” Aquilina said.