[WATCH] Owen Bonnici and Karol Aquilina spar over corruption, Caruana Galizia murder

On Xtra, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici says political responsibility shall be shouldered once all the facts are established

Owen Bonnici and Karol Aquilina crossed swords in a lively debate over the latest developments linked to the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder.

The Justice Minister said the arrest of a top businessman was proof that the country’s institutions are working as they should.

But the claim was rejected by the Nationalist Party MP, who insisted that if this was the case, Caruana Galizia would not have been murdered.

They were speaking on TVM’s Xtra hosted by Saviour Balzan on Thursday night.

Bonnici rejected the PN’s claims that national institutions such as the police, the army, the Attorney General, and the courts, have become sterile and ineffective.

“Recent events have shown that these institutions are functioning properly, and achieving results... this shows the importance given to the rule of law in Malta, and flies in the face of suggestions that there is a culture of impunity at work in the country,” Bonnici said.

But Aquilina rebutted that there was “concrete proof” of corruption in the workings of government. “This is precisely why Caruana Galizia was killed,” the PN MP said.

On calls for the removal of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri and minister Konrad Mizzi, Bonnici insisted that he will not heed the accusations made by former PN leader Simon Busuttil.

“I believe in the rule of law… and will wait to see what the courts conclude, and then abide by their ruling. Let us allow the institutions do their job, then I will abide by what the courts decide,” Bonnici said.

When Balzan pointed out that political responsibility still had to be shouldered, Bonnici argued that this was a legal matter, rather than a political one.

“Responsibility shall be shouldered once all the facts are established, and the facts are established by the courts,” he insisted.

Aquilina said Schembri and Mizzi should have been fired the moment that the Panama Papers scandal broke, adding that the Prime Minister will probably still not demand their resignation, even after the latest developments.

The Opposition spokesperson labelled this state of affairs as a “tragedy”, arguing that Muscat’s inaction was an indication of his complicity with Schembri and Mizzi.

He also attacked Bonnici himself, describing the minister as “the only justice minister in the EU who is defending two corrupt people”.

Aquilina said the PN will keep on insisting that political responsibility must be shouldered. “Schembri and Mizzi must resign, and if the Prime Minister does not remove them, he should resign as well. The Maltese people have a right to the truth and justice,” Aquilina said.

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