Minister orders inquiry into state failure after mother shot dead / Malta News Briefing – Tuesday 22 November 2022

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Updated 1615

The Times of Malta says that an inquiry will look into whether any state entities failed a woman who was murdered as a result of alleged domestic violence, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri said.

Following-up on this story, TVM says that Alessia Cilia, the sister of the 40-year old mother who was killed this morning in a shooting incident in Paola, expressed strong words on the local authorities which it said ignored her sister’s requests for assistance.Writing on Facebook, Cilia said that Bernice Cassar was “frightened” because the safety of herself and her two children was threatened. She added that recently the victim indicated to her that she was distressed.

Maltatoday reports that an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.5 on the Richter scale shook Malta and Gozo at around 1:40pm with tremors being felt all over the islands.

Newsbook says that three University of Malta academics – including the former dean of the Faculty of Laws – are insisting that the wording of a bill which would end the criminalisation of the termination of pregnancies when the pregnant woman’s health is at risk must be changed to prevent it being used to “open the door for legal abortion in our country.”

Updated 1200 – Mother of two shot dead in apparent domestic dispute

A 40-year old woman, mother of two, was shot dead at Corradino industrial estate this morning. The Times of Malta reports that the incident happened shortly after 8am on a road behind the Mcast Campus where the woman was driving her car.  A body was covered by a sheet just outside a white Nissan Qashqai. It is understood that up to three shots were fired from another vehicle, which then sped off.

TVM says that armed police have launched an operation in Qrendi near the residence of murder victim Bernice Cassar. Officers wearing protective gear were seen approaching the house where Cassar lived with her husband and two children.  A police negotiator was speaking to a suspect on the phone trying to convince him to turn himself in.

Couple to insist with human rights case on abortion request

The American couple whose pregnancy ordeal prompted a Bill to amend Malta’s strict abortion ban, still intends to forge ahead with its human rights case against the government. “It sounds like the government is acknowledging that the existing laws harm mothers and punish healthcare workers who would otherwise help them. That’s a necessary first step,” Jay Weeldreyer said.  His partner, Andrea Prudente, whose request to terminate a non-viable pregnancy was refused by the health authorities in June, led to international media attention. (Times of Malta)

Morning Briefing

Fearne presents bill relaxing abortion law

Health Minister Chris Fearne has presented the First Reading of a Bill, which makes abortion possible if a woman’s health or life are at risk.
This is the first step in the parliamentary process after last week government unveiled its plans to relax Malta’s anti-abortion laws. Fearne said that the the proposed change to the Criminal Code will ensure that doctors are not shackled in saving a woman’s life if she develops serious medical complications during her pregnancy. The bill adds a single article, Article 243B to the Criminal Code. This article states that the provisions making it illegal for a woman to procure a miscarriage – and for any medical professional to assist in this – do not apply “when the termination of a pregnancy results from a medical intervention aimed at protecting the health of a pregnant woman suffering from a medical complication which may put her life at risk or her health in grave jeopardy.” Meanwhile, the Nationalist Party will be reviewing the bill before taking a stand, party leader Bernard Grech said.

Posts of Ombudsman and Standards Commissioner are filled together – PM

Prime Minister Dr Robert Abela said that if no development is reached on the appointment of the Public Life Standards Commissioner, a mechanism will be triggered so that the post will not remain vacant and stressed that this post has to be filled together with that of the Ombudsman. Abela referred to talks between the Government and the Opposition, maintaining that he and Dr Grech had reached an agreement between them on Dr Joseph Azzopardi and Dr Joseph Zammit McKeon, however then the Opposition leader changed his mind after his colleagues did not agree with him.

FIAU leading to prosecution in financial crime cases

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana highlighted the achievements of the FIAU, which he said was helping lead a number of financial crime cases to prosecution. Speaking during the launch of the anti-money laundering agency new four-year strategy, Caruana said the unit has developed into an institution that delivers results. FIAU Director Mr Kenneth Farrugia stated that, “The strategy marks a clear commitment, to work beyond what is necessary to ensure that Malta and its financial sectors are safeguarded from both from ML/FT risks or use as a jurisdiction”. He highlighted that the strategy marks a more proactive FIAU, who for many years was reacting to external reviews and feedback.

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