Busuttil hits out at 'pathetic' police conference, says PM is 'politically finished'

Ex-Opposition leader calls for resignations of Commissioner of Police and Attorney General, and says Prime Minister Jospeh Muscat is 'politically finished'

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is politically responsible for Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, which was political and an assassination of democracy, Simon Busuttil said in an impassioned speech in parliament this morning.

The murder was political because in her nature, Caruana Galizia was a political person, prominent in her political influence, and she was killed for practicing freedom of speech and for what she wrote, the former Opposition leader said.

Busuttil said Muscat had been undermining democracy for the past four and a half years, and was responsible for the climate which led to Caruana Galizia's brutal murder. He made it clear that he was not in any way accusing the Prime Minister of commiting the murder himself, or commissioning someone to do it.

“The Prime Minister is politically finished in Malta, in Europe, and in the world - he has lost all legitimacy,” he said, adding that Muscat now had little chance of leaving his premiership post in two years to take up a leadership position within the EU.

He was scathing of the Prime Minister’s decision to change police commissioner five times since being elected in 2013, noting that the fourth appointed commissioner, Michael Cassar, resigned his post because he was not ready to act on an FIAU report implicating Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri as having been involved in money laundering and recommending that they be criminally investigated.

Busuttil was also severly critical of Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar, calling him a “complete puppet”, one who was ready to not investigate Mizzi and Schembri. He described Cutajar as inept and incapable of heading the investigation of Caruana Galizia's heinous murder, as he maintained that the police force had a problems throughout its ranks, from the highest to lowest.

He called yesterday’s police press conference “mediocre” and one in which Cutajar looked completely incompetent, bereft of any gravitas or professionalism. “I was ashamed to watch the conference, which came three days too late - I felt ashamed in Cutajar’s place.”

Assistant Commissioner Silvio Valletta, Gozo minister Justyne Caruana’s husband should also not be investigating this case, Busuttil argued, expressing surprise that Valletta could not even realise that he would have a clear conflict of interest should some connection of the murder to the government be found in the course of the investigation.

He also had harsh words for Attorney General Peter Grech, who he said should be removed for dereliciton of duty. “He had reports for a whole year saying that he should investigate Mizzi and Schembri, but he did nothing - he had a duty to investigate and did not do anything.”

Two weeks after Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri said that the rule of law in Malta was threatened, Caruana Galizia was murdered, he said. “It was like a premonition.”

Busuttil also maintained that Malta should revist its decision not to join the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO). “The technical reasons we previously had for not joining are now, in the wake of what happened, irrelevant,” he argued. The EPPO aims at improving the prosecution of criminals who defraud EU taxpayers by reinforcing the procedural guarantees of OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud office. He also urged his own party to change its stand on the matter.