Neville Gafà’s recent Libyan visit was to discuss migration challenges, Foreign Minister says

‘My interest isn’t which person was on the delegation to Libya, but that we achieve results’

Neville Gafà's visit to Libya in June was to contribute to discussion on migration challenges, Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela said
Neville Gafà's visit to Libya in June was to contribute to discussion on migration challenges, Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela said

The purpose of Neville Gafà’s recent visit to Libya was to contribute to discussions with Libyan officials regarding issues related to migration, the Foreign Minister said.

Carmelo Abela said that Gafà, who was in Libya on 18 June, formed part of a delegation, led by Malta’s ambassador to Libya Charles Saliba.

Abela, who was replying to a parliamentary question from PN MP Claudette Buttigieg on Monday, said discussions focused on bi-lateral relations and the situation in the region, particularly migration.

It is understood that Gafà's function was to participate in the migration aspect of the talks.

“We felt we had to send a Maltese delegation led by Malta’s ambassador to Libya to discuss bi-lateral issues and also the situation in the region, primarily the migration challenge,” the minister said.

“The delegation was made up not only of officials from the Foreign Affairs ministry, but also of other representatives, to speak about issues over-and-above our bi-lateral relationship.”

Abela said he was not mostly concerned with who the persons who made up the delegation were, but with registering progress when it came to the migration issue.

Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela was replying to a supplementary question by PN MP Claudette Buttigieg on Monday
Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela was replying to a supplementary question by PN MP Claudette Buttigieg on Monday

“My interest isn’t which person was on the delegation to Libya, but that we achieve results when it comes to migration,” he said.

Gafà, whose role with the government had never been amply explained, was allegedly part of a medical visas racket for Libyan migrants.

In June, a court heard how Libyan nationals were willing to testify against Gafà, an Office of the Prime Minister official, over visas racket, but were being pressured not to do so.

The claim was made by Ivan Grech Mintoff during libel proceedings instituted by Gafà against David Lindsay as editor of The Malta Independent on Sunday.

Gafà was a former public officer at the Foundation for Medical Services (FMS) before he was sacked on order of Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne after it emerged that he (Gafà) posed as the prime minister's special envoy and met with a Libyan warlord, Haithem Tajouri, in November 2018.

After news of the meeting with Tajouri came to light, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat stood by the civil servant, saying Gafà had been doing “a very good job”.

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