Former Times managing director received over €1 million from deal, Court hears / Malta News Briefing – 3 June 2021

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Covid-19 Update: Four new cases of coronavirus were reported on Wednesday, while four persons recovered. Active cases remained stable at 76.

Former Times managing director received over €1 million from deal: A court heard how what was supposed to be a straightforward purchase of printing machinery became a complicated process to cover up backhanders. Police testified as former Allied Newspapers managing director Adrian Hillman was put under a bill of indictment. He is being accused of money laundering, conspiracy to commit a crime, defrauding Progress Press, making fraudulent gain, making a false declaration to a public authority, as well as accepting bribes.

Melvin Theuma continues testifying in Daphne case: Self-confessed middleman Melvin Theuma is expected to conclude his testimony today. Theuma admitted his role in the 2017 assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. He told the court that he “prayed to God’ that the murder would be pinned on someone else, like former Labour party deputy leader Chris Cardona.

Newspaper Review

Business Today reports on the launch of a new Nomad Residence Permit aimed at non-EU remote workers, freelancers, and business owners. Candidates can obtain a one-year residence permit in Malta against a €300 fee.

The Malta Business Weekly carries an interview with Cyber Crime Unit Sergeant Joseph Louis Xerri who warned that online scams are on the rise and appealed for vigilance by the public. More than 200 people have fallen victim to an online scheme in the last three weeks.

The Independent speaks to PN sources who pledged to buy the area around Ħondoq ir-Rummien and turn it into a public park, if elected to government. Residents and activists have recently raised concerns about development in the area.

L-Orizzont follows the court hearing in the libel case by minister Carmelo Abela against opposition MP Jason Azzopardi. Magistrate Rachel Montebello turned down the minister’s request to put the burden of proof on the defendant.

In-Nazzjon says that Opposition Leader Bernard Grech called on the Prime Minister to sack minister Carmelo Abela following allegations against him by two murder suspects. Grech said that Robert Abela cannot afford to have the minister in his Cabinet.

The Times reports from parliament where Opposition MPs questioned minister Carmelo Abela whether he had offered his resignation following accusations of involvement in an armed robbery attempt. The minister dismissed the claims as fabrications.

The Independent quotes Parliamentary Secretary Alex Muscat who said that the European Commission did not communicate with the government about the new citizenship by investment programme launched last year.

In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Bernard Grech who announced that the party is working on a plan for mental health reform. Speaking during a Q&A session, Grech said that the proposals will also address Mount Carmel hospital.

The Times says that sittings at the Gozo law courts were postponed on Wednesday as lawyers failed to turn up in protest. In a joint statement, they highlighted a series of problems with the current facilities including the loss of case files by the IT system.

The Malta Business Weekly reports that government debt reached over 54 per cent of GDP at the end of 2020, with the Financial Corporations sector holding nearly two-thirds of it. Compared with 2019, total debt increased by €1.3 billion.

L-Orizzont quotes principal permanent secretary Mario Cutajar who said that Malta ranks fifth in the EU for digital society. Cutajar announced that the public sector is investing some €200 million in technology services this year.

Business Today says that Malta has not yet reached any bilateral agreements with other countries on Covid-19 vaccine passports. Seven EU members including two Mediterranean countries have already joined the European QR verification system.

Morning Briefing

Recovery progamme for students who missed school announced

Students ranging from the first-year primary until last-year secondary and who missed out on several lessons because of the pandemic will have an opportunity to recover and continue from where they left off in their education. Education Minister Justyne Caruana announced a programme which will be implemented with financing through European funds, to the tune of a quarter of a million euro, through which 2,360 students who fell behind during this scholastic year will be given help in a number of subjects.

An initial internal study about attendance during the 2020/2021 scholastic year showed that there was a high level of absenteeism from a substantial number of students. Minister Caruana stated that with the onset of the pandemic one of the measures had been to close down schools, adding that there had been a high level of absenteeism among students in the scholastic year 2020-2021. The Minister said for this reason this teaching recovery programme in children’s education will be embarked upon.

PN pledges to return Hondoq to public

The PN said that if elected it would buy the area around Ħondoq ir-Rummien back from its private landowners and turn it into a national park. A party spokesperson said: “A PN Government will acquire the land area in question from the private owners in order to rehabilitate and develop it into a national park with various amenities accessible to the general public​.”

Paul Pace if new FORUM President

Paul Pace, president of the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses, has been elected president of the For.U.M. trade unions federation, replacing Marco Bonnici. Elaine Germani is the new general secretary, succeeding Colin Galea.

Covid-19 Update

10 new cases of coronavirus were reported on Wednesday, while four persons recovered. Active cases now stand at 76. 2,275 swabs were carried out yesterday. Till Tuesday, 528,592 doses were administered of which 319,574 were a first dose. 218,321 people are fully vaccinated.

CDE News