‘Prime Minister’s defence of Mizzi and Schembri leads to suspicion he is an accomplice’ - Busuttil

In parliament, the former PN leader laid into Prime Minister Joseph Muscat over a report by MEPs following a fact-finding mission into the rule of law in Malta

Nationalist MP Simon Busuttil
Nationalist MP Simon Busuttil

Former Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil has insisted that the Prime Minister’s refusal to sack Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri, despite growing local and international calls for him to do so, led one to believe that he was complicit in whatever wrongdoing they were guilty of.

Speaking during parliamentary adjournment, Busuttil said that it had been three months since the brutal assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, and that while three men had been accused of her murder, the country was none the wiser when it came to knowing who had commissioned her killing.

In light of this, he said he would be dedicating the first parliamentary adjournment of the year the late journalist’s memory.

Busuttil referred to a report drawn up by MEPs who visited Malta last month on a fact-finding mission to investigate the rule of law. The delegation, he stressed, was led by a Socialist MEP and was by no means politically motivated.

He said the report “showed the extent to which the government, and specifically the Prime Minister was damaging the country”.

This applied both to his handling of the Panama Papers revelations as well as Caruana Galizia’s assassination, he said.

The report made a number of recommendations for Malta to adopt, with Busuttil insisting that agreed with those who had said it contained nothing new, given that the PN had been insisting on the points raised for a very long time.

The only difference, he added, was that it was the European Parliament that was saying it now.

“This report deserves to be given importance because when you have an institution like the European Parliament that speaks in this way it can’t be dismissed,” said Busuttil.

He said that the MEPs had noted that there was a problem with separation of powers in the country, and that there weren’t enough checks and balances regulating the government.

Moreover, he said, the report stated that the fact that Mizzi and Schembri were mentioned in the panama papers, and that there was no subsequent investigation into the revelations, was damaging the country.

He said the report clearly stated that the two should be removed and that criminal proceeds should be initiated.

“Instead the Prime Minister is still refusing to start and investigation,” stressed Busuttil, adding that MP Jason Azzopardi and himself would tomorrow be in court once again trying to ensure that this happens.

Furthermore, he said the report made it clear that keeping the two, led to a growing sense of impunity in the country, and also allowed for the possibility that the two would continue with potential criminal activity they might be engaged in.

Busuttil also insisted that Muscat had made a number of declarations to MEPs that were untrue. Referring to media reports claiming to fact check the Prime Minister’s remarks, Busuttil stressed it was unacceptable for the country’s independent media to have to fact check the Prime Minister.

Finally, the former PN leader said that in the face of institutional paralysis, the nation needed to remain committed to fighting for justice and that which was right.

“We can all do our part by attending protests, or writing what we believe in,” he said. “Everyone can do his part. What counts is not who wins or loses, but the courage to continue fighting for what is right.”