Prime Minister calls for ‘tranquillity’ in the face of ‘recycled stories’ by The Daphne Project

Joseph Muscat reiterated his belief that action should be taken on the basis of the outcome of investigations, while urging supporters to attend next week's May Day celebrations

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this morning appealed for tranquillity in the face of what he said were recycled stories, published earlier this week by The Daphne Project.

The consortium of journalists from several new organisations around the world is investigating Daphne Caruana Galizia's stories, as well as her assassination.

Speaking during a brief phone-in on ONE Radio, Muscat spoke mainly about amendments to the Embryo Protection Act, the second reading of which was meant to take place in parliament this week, but which was postponed after the Opposition requested an urgent debate on allegations made by the consortium the day before.

On Tuesday, The Daphne Project published a number of articles alleging that Economy minister Chris Cardona had met with one of the suspects in Caruana Galizia’s murder, both before and after the assassination.

The debate went ahead after a ruling by deputy Speaker Claudette Buttigieg.

Muscat said that he had spoken to many who expressed doubts about Buttigieg’s ruling, but insisted that the government respected the country’s institutions and had not contested the ruling.

Turning to what he described as the repetition of old stories by the consortium, Muscat appealed for a sense of tranquillity.

“I received a lot of messages of support over the last few days,” he said. “I told people that I would keep looking forward and doing everything I believe is good for our country.”

Earlier this week, previously unseen emails were published showing financial advisors Nexia BT explain how a Dubai company 17 Black was named as a “target client” of the Panama companies set up for OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri and Tourism minister Konrad Mizzi.

The company, first mentioned in a cryptic post by the slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in early 2017, and later reported about by The Malta Independent, was revaled to have had a total $1.6 million (€1.3 million) transferred to it.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister told MaltaToday earlier this week that he would not prejudice ongoing magisterial inquiries, while reiterating that if wrongdoing were to be found, “the persons involved would shoulder their responsibility”.

The Prime Minister also questioned the motive behind calls for an investigation from some quarters of society, given that it appeared that those calling for an investigation had already condemned the government. “Let’s wait for the investigation and see the results.”

He insisted that the nation would not forgive those who were lying about matter that would eventually be proven to be untrue, while urging the supporters to attend the party’s 1 May celebrations in Valletta.

‘I will be on the side of those who cannot have children’

On the proposed amendments to the country’s IVF laws, Muscat said he wasn’t surprised by some people’ s reaction and that he understood the subject was an “emotional one”. It was especially difficult, he said, for those who had trouble conceiving and who required he help of medical techniques to do so.

Muscat argued that these people had suffered in silence for a long time, adding that the government was committed to help them.

He acknowledged criticism, including that levelled at the government by former MPs Deborah Schembri and George Vella, but stressed that the law aim was simply that of improving a law that was discriminatory, and which was not leading to the best possible results.

He pointed to analyses this week, by gynaecologist Marc Sant and medical lab director at St James Hospital Paul Sultana, who both argued that embryo freezing was necessary to improving the procedure’s success rate.

“At the end of the day it is important to remember that one in every six families have some form of fertility problem,” he said, adding that the government had a mandate to modernise the current laws.

He also rejected claims that the law would be introducing embryo freezing, pointing out that the 2012 law already allowed for embryo freezing, even if in exceptional cases.

“I would like to appeal for rational arguments that allow people to understand each other,” said Muscat. “I for one will be one the side of those who cannot have children.”