[WATCH] Prime Minister says Caruana’s resignation is example of ethical conduct expected of his MPs

Prime Minister Robert Abela says he took action once he got the full picture of former deputy police chief Silvio Valletta’s relationship with Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech

Robert Abela has said that he took action regarding Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana once the complete picture on the relationship between her husband, former deputy police chief Silvio Valletta, and Yorgen Fenech became known.

Asked whether he had any inkling of the apparently close relationship between Valletta and Fenech, when he had confirmed Caruana as a minister, Abela said he acted once he knew the full story.

Abela - who was fielding questions from journalists on Monday afternoon after confirming in Parliament that he had accepted Caruana’s resignation as minister - said he did not feel that the former Gozo minister had in any way abused his trust when she was last week allowed to retain her position as a government minister.

“I acted when I had the complete picture,” Abela said, “I don’t agree [Caruana abused my trust].”

Questioned on whether the police should investigate Valletta and Fenech’s relationship, the Prime Minister said that he was informed that procedures had already been started.

On Sunday, it was reported that Valletta had travelled to the UK with Fenech to watch a football match. Today, it emerged that a video existed of Valletta fooling around in the business magnate’s Rolls-Royce.

“As I understand it there are already ongoing procedures - minister Byron Camilleri mentioned it yesterday,” Abela said.

Abela did not say whether he had decided who was going to replace Caruana as Gozo minister. “It is the Prime Minister’s Constitutional prerogative [to choose a minister], and I will exercise such a prerogative according to the Constitution’s parameters,” he underscored.

Asked if the Attorney General’s position was still tenable in light of the fact that he had in June 2018 appealed a court decision for Valletta to be removed from the Caruana Galizia investigation due to his potential conflict of interest as the husband of a government minister, Abela said the AG had at the time been exercising his legal rights.

“The Attorney General exercised his right under the law to file an appeal, and the [Appeals] Court then gave its decision, where it did not agree with the AG. This is why we have functional institutions.” The Court of Appeals had in September 2018 confirmed the inferior court’s ruling that Valletta should desist from his involvement in the investigation into there assassinated journalist.

Pressed on whether he had any concerns on other senior investigators in the case - for instance, in view of reports that Assistant Police Commissioner Ian Abdilla had botched a request for information from Dubai about Fenech’s secret 17 Black company - Abela said that, while he was “not informed” of any concerns with other investigators, he would leave it to the acting Police Commissioner to carry out any necessary investigations.”

“I will let the acting Police Commissioner carry out any investigation - it is he who has to take such decisions.”

Abela added that, just as he had today given a concrete example of the level of ethical conduct expected by his MPs, he hoped Opposition leader Adrian Delia would take this example and apply such a standard to himself and his deputies.

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