Busuttil using shooting incident to score political points - Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says PN leader Simon Busuttil is not running after the truth, but after political points; Muscat says home affairs minister Manuel Mallia is ready to be scrutinised over allegations of a cover-up.

Paul Sheehan, right, has been suspended from both driving and police duties after allegedly shooting twice at Stephen Smith's car.
Paul Sheehan, right, has been suspended from both driving and police duties after allegedly shooting twice at Stephen Smith's car.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has this morning accused Opposition leader Simon Busuttil of using Wednesday’s shooting incident to score political points, claiming that the PN leader, as opposed to the government, is not after the truth.

Muscat’s comments come after a shooting incident in which home affairs minister Manuel Mallia’s driver Paul Sheehan shot at the car of Stephen Morrison Smith, following a hit-and-run incident.

The incident was initially played down by the home affairs ministry which insisted that the shots Sheehan fired into the vehicle were “warning shots” fired in the air. However, it later transpired that the shots were actually fired in the rear of the car, with photos showing bullet holes in the vehicle.

“There is no doubt, the incident shocked a lot of people, including me. It is unacceptable and unjustifiable reaction,” the prime minister underlined this morning while speaking on One Radio.

“We have nothing to hide, the government is after the truth.”

“We opted for the most obvious option: that of setting up a board of inquiry made up of three retired members of the judiciary to establish responsibility. Since the opposition has many doubts about the incident, it should not only be represented on the board, but it is also being given the opportunity to choose a person to head the inquiry,” Muscat argued.

However, on Saturday, Busuttil rebuffed Muscat, instead reiterating allegations of a cover-up by the Home Affairs Ministry into the incident involving Mallia’s driver and police constable Paul Sheehan.

Moreover, Busuttil has told the prime minister to “stop ‘shooting’ from the hip and stand up to be counted. It’s your mess, now deal with it. Be a Prime Minister for once.

“Busuttil’s words will not be turned into action, we want the truth and we do not want to play the political game,” Muscat said.

“The Opposition leader is continuing to say that something is being covered up. However, he does not want to shoulder his responsibility to the people. Instead of running after the truth, he is trying to score political points,” Muscat said.

“I have talked to Manuel Mallia and he told me that he is ready to be scrutinised to show that he has nothing to do with the case and the aftermath,” he insisted.

On the government’s budgetary measures, Muscat said the government was rewarding those who want to work, and ensuring that the social benefits are being given to those people who are in true need.

The prime minister also explained that rather than opting for a bailout, Malta has managed to reduce unemployment and increase economic growth. All this, he said, is testament to the fact that the government’s plan is working.

More in National