Police ignoring request to investigate Muscat's Bvlgari gift, Repubblika claims

Rule of law NGO Repubblika says Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar is yet to respond to allegations that Joseph Muscat was accepting gifts from alleged mastermind behind journalist's murder

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat admitted on a ONE radio interview that he had indeed accepted a €20,000 watch as a gift from Yorgen Fenech
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat admitted on a ONE radio interview that he had indeed accepted a €20,000 watch as a gift from Yorgen Fenech

The NGO Repubblika has filed a formal request to police to investigate Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's acceptance of a €20,000 Bvlgari watch, a gift from Electrogas investor Yorgen Fenech, now charged with masterminding the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

"Despite the seriousness of the case, the Police Commissioner, Lawrence Cutajar, has yet to respond to the formal request we filed more than a week ago. We weren't informed of the identity of the official tasked with investigating the allegation we made. These facts continue to confirm our lack of faith in Cutajar, once again confirming himself as an agent of government corruption rather than an independent official of the state," Repubblika wrote in a statement on Thursday. 

Muscat initially downplayed the claims that he had accepted gifts from Fenech as part of a deceitful campaign to further discredit him but he later admitted in an interview with ONE radio on Sunday that that he had indeed received the €20,000 Bvlgari wristwatch.

"Repubblika has nowhere else to go to file its complaint that the law is not being enforced. If the police refuse to do their job, the criminals will continue to do as they please. In the case of Joseph Muscat and [his former chief of staff] Keith Schembri, they've been evading justice since the Panama Papers reveal. This impunity resulted in the assassination of a journalist that was attempting to reveal corruption," Repubblika wrote.

The NGO said that the accusations of kickbacks and bribery implicating the Prime Minister are very serious and are aggravated by the fact that the Delimara power-station tender was found to be lacking in due diligence by the Auditor General. "The [watch] is seen as bribery when considering that Fenech, with others, won the power station contract."

The Bvlgari watch was allegedly handed to Muscat by the former Tumas businessman on Christmas of 2014. The gas power station tender was awarded to Electrogas in December 2013.

"This is further aggravated by the fact that Electrogas are not fulfilling their contractual obligations to guarantee electric supply to Malta," Repubblika wrote, referring to the recent string of blackouts in Malta, following the damage caused to the interconnector between Malta and Sicily.

Former independent MEP candidate Arnold Cassola had also written to the corruption commission, asking chairperson Lawrence Quintano to investigate the donations given by Fenech to the outgoing Prime Minister. 

"Considering the gravity of these revelations, which not only involve corruption, but also an assassination and a threat to democracy, I am asking you to call individuals to testify in order for more light to be shed on these cases," Cassola had written. 

READ ALSO: Arnold Cassola asks corruption commission to investigate Yorgen Fenech’s gifts to PM