[WATCH] Losing general elections is political price paid for migrants’ deaths – PN leader

'We already shouldered political responsibility for the migrants’ death by losing general elections,’ PN leader Simon Busuttil says

PN leader Simon Busuttil (Photo by Ray Attard)
PN leader Simon Busuttil (Photo by Ray Attard)
Simon Busuttil: 'PN paid ultimate price' • Video by Ray Attard

The Nationalist Party does not need to shoulder any political responsibility over the revelations of the Kamara inquiry because it has already “paid the ultimate price” by losing the 2013 general elections, PN leader Simon Busuttil said.

Addressing journalists during an end-of-year review of the PN’s work throughout 2014, Busuttil insisted that the people had already passed their judgement on the previous administration.

“The people passed their judgement on the previous government and I'm sure that the death of the immigrants had a part to play in the people's judgement,” Busuttil said. “Carm Mifsud Bonnici is no longer a minister so he cannot be removed. He had already been voted out of the Cabinet when the report was compiled.” 

A report by retired judge Geoffrey Valenzia into the death of 32-year-old Mamadou Kamara in 2012 revealed that no disciplinary action had been taken against detention officers involved in the death of another migrant the year before.

According to former head of detention services Lieutenant Colonel Brian Gatt, former minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici had stopped disciplinary actions from being taken “as not to interfere with the police’s investigation”. Gatt was referring to the death of Nigerian asylum seeker Infeanyi Nwokoye in 2011.

Nwokoye was buried two years after his death while charges against two soldiers and a detention services officer were only filed in February 2014.

Last week, Mifsud Bonnici told MaltaToday he never stopped Gatt from taking disciplinary steps against the officers and described Gatt’s statement to the inquiry as “strange”.

During today’s press conference, Mifsud Bonnici said there have been arraignments over Nwokoye’s murder and insisted that the PN had been pushing for magistrate Antonio Micallef Trigona to take action on it.

“The day after Kamara was found dead, the then prime minister had ordered a review of the governments detention policies,” Busuttil said. “That report was finalised in October 2012 but the current government has not yet published it. We want to improve the detention conditions and id have expected the current government to have used that report to do that just that, rather than hide it.”

Two reports were ordered by the previous administration but only one – the Kamara inquiry – has been made public. It was tabled last week in parliament by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat during the Sheehan shooting debate.

Busuttil once again questioned why it was only now that the Labour government chose to publish the Kamara inquiry “when it had the report for two years”.

“Even if, for argument’s sake, the previous government made a mistake, it still doesn’t explain why Muscat shelved it for two years," Busuttil said. 

‘No public officials in Azerbaijan with Muscat’

Busuttil also cast doubt on the reasons behind Muscat’s recent state visit to Azerbaijan where Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi signed a memorandum of understanding with the Azerbaijani government on strategic cooperation between the two countries within the oil and gas sector.

“What were they doing there?” Busuttil questioned. “Pictures show that only Mizzi, [OPM Chief of Staff] Keith Schembri and [OPM communications chief] Kurt Farrugia accompanied Muscat on this trip. Why didn’t any public officials accompany them?”

‘We’ve managed to remove the government’s mask’

Busuttil spent the best part of his press conference criticising the government’s actions this past year and praising his party’s role in “removing the government’s mask”.

“The biggest case of this in 2014 was undoubtedly the sacking of Manuel Mallia, the strongest minister in Muscat’s Cabinet,” Muscat said. “The people know that Muscat only sacked him because the truth had started to come out, thanks to the PN, our media, and the independent media. The biggest lesson we learnt from the Mallia incident wasn’t the shooting incident per se but rather the fact that we have a government that was caught out in its attempts to hide the truth. It wasn’t the first time it had tried to hide the truth, but it was the first time it had tried to hide it so blatantly.” 

He also praised the Opposition’s role in forcing the government to remove a secrecy clause from and to add a residency requirement to the Individual Investor Programme, and for convincing it to perform a U-turn with regards its original plans to cancel the local council elections next year.

He also warned that imports and exports have reduced, that industrial production has consistently reduced, and that shop sales consistently gone down. He also criticised the government for “insulting” people by only giving them a 58c weekly cost-of-living-adjustment increase and for not reducing fuel costs at a time that global oil prices have gone down dramatically.

Muscat has introduced an ‘everything goes’ culture

Busuttil criticised Muscat for introducing an ‘everything goes’ political culture.

“This year, we saw Joe Mizzi meet up with a public transport company prior to the tender release, Cyrus Engerer get awarded with a top job in Brussels despite receiving a suspended sentence in court, Helena Dalli allowing illegal works to occur on her farmhouse, and Luciano Busuttil personally intervening so that a local council tender ended up getting awarded to his client.”

Busuttil added that the government is also trying to hide the Henley and Partners citizenship contract and the energy contracts it had signed with the Electrogas consortium and the Chinese state-owned Shanghai Electric Power.

“The people want politicians to be more honest than they currently are, and we are committed to rebuilding the PN on new foundations based on honesty,” Busuttil said.

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