[WATCH] Robert Abela: A mishandled crime conference but no grounds for police chief's resignation

On Xtra, Labour MP Robert Abela and Opposition MP Clyde Puli discuss national unity, resignations, and change after Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder

MPs Robert Abela and Clyde Puli discussed Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder on Xtra
MPs Robert Abela and Clyde Puli discussed Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder on Xtra

A botched crime conference on the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia may have dented people's trust in Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar but he had done nothing to merit his resignation from the force, according to Labour MP Robert Abela.

Admitting that Cutajar could have answered the questions put to him in a better way, Abela insisted the police chief was not the only one investigating the murder.

Abela was a guest on TVM programme Xtra hosted by Saviour Balzan, along with Nationalist Party MP Clyde Puli, who insisted the people had lost trust in the police commissioner.

However, Abela said that while the PN were quick to call for Cutajar's resignation, he had been given various promotions under previous Nationalist governments.

Puli said Sunday's demonstration in Valletta showed that people had also lost trust in the police chief and wanted him to go. The PN has asked for the resignations of the police commissioner and the attorney general with their replacements being chosen by a two-thirds parliamentary majority. The PN also asked for Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's resignation, accusing him of fostering a climate that made Caruana Galizia's murder possible.

"Crime is more organised than our government... the people’s anger and concern is legitimate,” Puli said, adding that government's call for national unity did not mean everyone should be complacent. "Caruana Galizia’s death has left the country a very different place."

Puli insisted this was a political murder because the "political community failed to protect Daphne". He said change was the only way government could regain the nation's trust.

“This case is bigger than one person; it is a case against democracy itself," Puli said.

But Abela rejected the 'political murder' label unless the motive of the crime was known. "This is a homicide investigation. How can we assume it was connected to politics?” he asked.

The Opposition, Abela said, was wrongly blaming the government, turning the murder into a political issue. He insisted national unity was now essential more than ever. He accused the Opposition of hijacking Sunday's demonstration and turning it into a political protest.

“We have a problem but it does not mean that the rule of law and democracy in Malta have been lost," Abela said.