[WATCH] ‘Killers, out! Prison!’. Thousands demand Joseph Muscat step down

Protestors gather outside parliament for the fourth time to demand Joseph Muscat's resignation

Protestors have called for the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Protestors have called for the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
'Killers, out! Prison!', protesters demand Joseph Muscat step down

Thousands of protestors yesterday poured out their anger outside Malta’s House of Representatives.

They were unprecedented scenes. In a fourth wave of protest since the arrest of Yorgen Fenech, the Tumas magnate, in connection with the assassination of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, masses of people were out in droves – heckling, hissing, booing, shouting, calling names, grabbing the barricades set up by police officers outside Parliament and throwing them to the ground forcefully.

They arrived early in the afternoon, at 4pm, as Joseph Muscat’s Cabinet meeting came to end, and with it the resignation of two ministers, Konrad Mizzi and Chris Cardona.

Protestors spent three hours outside the House of Representatives. They shouted ‘killers’, ‘mafia’, ‘prison’… they pelted MPs and ministers’ ministerial vehicles with eggs. Police struggled to keep the crowd in control as they forcefully threw down the barricades.

At one point, the demonstrators sung the Maltese national anthem, in what appeared their firm message that the country, not corrupt politicians, comes first.

The crowd then moved to Castille, with activists from Repubblika and Occupy Justice paying  tribute to murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

“Two years ago, the unthinkable happened. A journalist was assassinated, and our gut reaction was that she was killed for what she had written or was about to write,” activist Pia Zammit said.

“Today we are here because our gut reaction was right. Daphne was right, and she should be here… We must never let a culture of fear reign again, we must never allow ourselves to be hijacked in this way again.”

 

Organisations for journalism and writers, among them Reporters Without Borders, PEN International and Transparency International, yesterday expressed concern at what they termed the “appearance of political interference into the investigation of the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia”.

“We are concerned that the Prime Minister, by placing himself at the centre of the investigation, raises the spectre of undue executive interference in the investigation. This is particularly so given the vested financial interests between Fenech and the Prime Minister’s current chief of staff Keith Schembri and cabinet minister Konrad Mizzi relating to the company, 17 Black who both resigned on Tuesday 26 November…”

“The whole truth concerning the circumstances and accountability for the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia must emerge. There must be transparency from the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General. The investigation must be independent, impartial and free of all political influence.”

The human rights NGO Aditus also weighed in, saying the integrity of the Office of the Prime Minister had been damaged and called for Joseph Muscat to resign with immediate effect.

“Malta’s governance institutions are largely failing to fulfil their roles of preventing and addressing abuses of political and administrative power. It is shameful that the entities entrusted by the nation to ensure justice, fairness, efficiency and democratic process – the public service, the judiciary, administrative tribunals, the police and armed forces, and state agencies – are consistently used as extensions of political party clubs or recruitment agencies,” Aditus director Neil Falzon said.

“Our statement of more than two years ago reverberates loudly today, following a long string of institutional failures directly connected to the Prime Minister. It is time for the entire nation to reclaim Malta’s democratic values. To insist that fundamental human rights, rule of law and good governance are repositioned at the heart of Government.

“To embark on a healing process that will require a revision of our Constitution, a challenging of the omnipotence of political parties and a strengthening of those institutions mandated to respect, protect and fulfil our fundamental human rights. The nation can only start healing with the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.”

More in National