Busuttil says society failed murder victim Silvana Muscat

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil accused Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of using Gozo's free construction case to deflect attention from SOCAR and Café Premier deals.

PN leader Simon Busuttil said Silvana Muscat – the woman who was murdered on Thursday – had sought protection from domestic violence, but “society failed her.”

Addressing the PN faithful in Bugibba, the Opposition leader also argued that the government’s deal with Azerbaijani company SOCAR was “shrouded in mystery,” while in a scathing attack on Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and energy minister Konrad Mizzi, Busuttil called on the government to shoulder political responsibility for the SOCAR and Café Premier deals.

But prior to delving into the maligned Café Premier deal and the damning Auditor General report on the SOCAR fuel hedging, Busuttil delved into the murder of Silvana Muscat, arguing that her cries for help had fallen on deaf ears.

“Silvana Muscat was asking for help but did not find any, and ended up being murdered on Thursday. We should be here to make a difference, if Malta wants to be a caring society, it must reach out to help those in need,” Busuttil said. The woman's murder led to an outpouring of support, while the President's Foundation of expressed concern at the security of domestic violence victims.

Turning his attention on the SOCAR fuel hedging deal, Busuttil insisted that the government’s deal with the Azeri is “shrouded in mystery,” more so after an Auditor General report highlighted the lack of documentation.

On Tuesday, an Auditor General report revealed that some €14 million were lost by Enemalta after it hedged fuel purchases with state-owned Azeri company SOCAR. The report revealed that Enemalta registered a loss of €8.6 million on crude oil and hedging and €5.5 million on hedging for unleaded petrol and diesel products due to the drop in the price of oil in the last three months of 2014.

The report also revealed that a “ministerial direction” by Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi saw Enemalta include Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR in Enemalta’s list of suppliers, which resulted in a six-month hedge on unleaded petrol and diesel.

“The Auditor General did not find any documents that could provided a clear explanation. We only know that the prime minister and Konrad Mizzi went to Azerbaijan without inviting the media,” Busuttil said.

The PN leader argued that while the PN is open to media scrutiny, the government’s deal with SOCAR remains under wraps, fuelling suspicions. Blasting Konrad Mizzi, Busuttil also took exception at the energy minister’s defence of the SOCAR hedge deal.

“Rather than admitting the mistake and shouldering political responsibility, Konrad Mizzi was arrogant, remained adamant that he did not wrong, and to add salt to the wound said he would do it again,” he said while insisting that Labour’s two years in government is characterised by arrogance.

On the Gozo free construction case, Busuttil insisted that it is “wrong” for the ministry to carry out work for private individuals, and that investigations should be carried out. Revealed by MaltaToday, a whistleblower revealed that Anthony Debono, the husband of former Gozo minister Giovanna Debono, commissioner private contractors to carry out work for constituents, provided them with construction material and covered their costs from the budget of the Gozo ministry.

While insisting that any shortcomings must be investigated, Busuttil was however adamant that the government’s €4.2 million Café Premier deal is much worse. Similarly, he said, police should also investigate the government’s affairs too, while Joseph Muscat should shoulder responsibility for his direct involvement.

Moreover, the PN leader accused the prime minister of sitting on the report, and of using it for political mileage, claiming that Muscat had been sitting on the report for two years, and that he chose to unleash them to deflect attention from the government's SOCAR deal.

“Rather than explaining the SOCAR deal, the prime minister opted to come out in attack and accused against the husband of former Gozo minister Giovanna Debono. Such reports must be investigated, but what is more pertinent, is that Muscat knew of this case, but chose to publish it in the run-up to an election,” he said, while adding that he would take decisions once investigations are concluded.