Nationalist MP points finger at Joseph Muscat for Souleymane murder

Interior Minister Michael Farrugia said that the cold-blooded and racist murder should not cast a shadow onto the Armed Forces of Malta

Nationalist Party MP Beppe Fenech Adami said that the murder of Ivorian immigrant Lassana Cisse Souleymane was the fruit of what Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had sown in the past.

Fenech Adami was responding to a short ministerial statement delivered by Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia in Parliament on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, the court found there was enough evidence for the soldiers accused of the drive-by murder to be indicted.

While Farrugia said that this murder should not cast a shadow on the Armed Forces of Malta, Fenech Adami accused him and the government of allowing the army to fester after taking a series of bad decisions upon being elected back in 2013.

“Just 10 years ago, the immigration problem reared its head and the then Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi took the unpopular decision to bring asylum-seekers into Malta.

“The same person who is now crying foul and blaming someone else is the person who ridiculed Gonzi at the time for his decision on refugees. He even promised he would not accept these people coming into the country and he promised a pushback and he fulfilled that promise,” Fenech Adami said, referring to Muscat’s attempted pushback of migrants in 2013.

He added that the racist individuals who have killed Souleymane and injured two others had been probably clapping at the Prime Minister’s statements back in 2009 and mentioned how the two accused of the murder were members of the Laburist sal-Mewt Facebook page.

“The Army has been broken by this government and despite changing the criteria of recruitment, the new system has failed because it allowed two young people in the army to feel that it’s easy to go out and shoot indiscriminately at black people,” Fenech Adami concluded.

Interior Minister Michael Farrugia in Parliament on Tuesday
Interior Minister Michael Farrugia in Parliament on Tuesday

Minister Farrugia said he would not discuss the facts of the case so as not to prejudice the ongoing court case, and he took his time in Parliament to praise the AFM for coordinating missions to save people from drowning in the Mediterranean.

He also clarified that recruitment into the AFM required a clean criminal record and in the case of the two accused, both soldiers had a clean conduct and had even took an oath to attest that there were no pending court cases ongoing against them.

“In no way should a shadow be cast on the AFM and all the other members of the force because of this murder,” he said. He added that Fenech Adami’s response was a “desperate attack” and that it was clear that the PN had learnt nothing about trying to find common ground instead of sowing further division.

Farrugia confirmed that an internal inquiry had been initiated by the AFM to examine whether there are any xenophobic sensibilities growing amongst the members of the AFM.

PN MP Simon Busuttil asked for political responsibility to be carried by the interior minister.

“If you are not going to bear responsibility, who will? The Prime Minister? Is there someone in this country who will bear responsibility?” he asked.

Labour whip Byron Camilleri said that he was “disgusted” by Fenech Adami’s discourse and argued that it was Opposition Leader Adrian Delia who had been tottering on far-right expressions in recent times.