Prime Minister: 'Likelihood is plane crash was result of error or mechanical failure'

Joseph Muscat has refuted speculation by the opposition regarding this morning’s air crash

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said that this morning's crash was likely caused by mechanical failure
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said that this morning's crash was likely caused by mechanical failure

Prime Minster Joseph Muscat has said that at this stage it is unlikely that there was any foul play involved in this morning’s crash and that contrary to speculation by the opposition, all information given by the government was correct.

Muscat was responding to a number of questions put forward by the Opposition leader during Monday's Parliamentary session. Busuttil criticised the Prime Minister for not keeping open channels of communication with the opposition in the wake of this morning’s crash. Speaking in Parliament Busuttil said that he would have expected the Prime Minister to keep the opposition in the loop as is standard practice with all matters that might have national security implications.

He also said that despite a statement made by the government on the nature of the ill-fated flight, he said that there were a number of contradicting reports in the media that led one to believe that the government’s explanation was not the real one.

Home Affairs minister Carmelo Abela, had previously given a statement where he once again stated that the members on board the aircraft were part of a French customs surveillance mission.

The leader of the opposition questioned whether the local authorities were aware of the nature of the operation and whether it had the government’s blessing.  He also questioned what interest Malta had in this operation and why it was departing from Malta. He leader of the opposition also asked whether the government intends to investigate what had happened, whether any precautions would be taken to safeguard those living in the area and whether foul play is being completely excluded that this stage of the investigation.

Beppe Fenech Adami, PN deputy leader, also claimed that while the government had said that the aircraft was taking part in an operation on behalf of French customs, this had been denied in local media, pointing at statements made by the French minister of defence in French media.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said in response that speculation about the flight’s mission and destination had not come from the government but from the media. He said that speculation that the flight was leaving for Misurata might have been due to the fact that another flight destined for Misurata was leaving Malta at a similar time. He added that the flight was a local flight, meaning that it was not going to land at any destination and was simply going to fly over Maltese airspace. 

Muscat also said that none of the information given by the Maltese government had been denied and that government was in fact working with the French government.

“The government never stated who the people on board were. What we know is that the operation was taking place under the cap of French customs and this is what all the paperwork states”, said Muscat.

He pointed out that over the last few days 3,000 people had crossed over from Libya and that it is in the countries interests to support operations that are aimed at determining routes being used by those who intend to smuggle people, drugs as well as arms. He added that the operation had been going on for five months and that the government would continue to do all that was necessary to safeguard the interests of the country.

Muscat also said that he did not understand why the opposition was saying that there had been no communication between them and the government since he knew that the Home Affairs minister had spoken with Beppe Fenech Adami earlier in the day. 

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