Covid-19 case forces Malta to skip Eurovision inauguration – Malta News Briefing – Sunday 16 May 2021

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Eurovision Update – Singer Destiny, Malta’s participant in the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, will not be taking part in the official opening ceremony due to the fact that a member the Icelandic delegation was found positive with Covid-19. Iceland, Poland Malta and Romania are housed in the same hotel in Rotterdam. Poland has reportedly registered a case of Covid-19 in its delegation too.

Coronavirus Update – Two new cases were registered in Malta according to the country’s Health Ministry data release on Sunday. There were 21 recoveries which brought down the number of active cases to 158.

Political Speeches – PM Robert Abela criticised the PN’s absence from a public consultation process on cannabis reform. In his Sunday speech, Abela said the Opposition was absent from the debate, adding he could not understand how a major political party chose not to take part in the public consultation. Times of Malta /

PN Leader Bernard Grech said the law banning the termination of pregnancies serves a deterrent for those seeking abortions, and so should not be amended. Grech said that while the party is against abortion, it cannot ignore the pleas of women who seek the procedure, stating the party will strive to understand the challenges they face. MaltaToday /

Newspaper Review

The Sunday Times reports that Judge Giovanni Grixti notified Minister Carmelo Abela that the police have requested access to his testimony given behind closed doors, alerting him that an investigation into his alleged involvement in the 2010 HSBC heist has been launched.

Malta Today asks Minister Carmelo Abela whether he will step down until a fresh police probe into claims linking him to an attempted bank heist is concluded. Abela dismissed the allegations as a conspiracy to oust him.

The Independent on Sunday quotes independent MP Marlene Farrugia who said that she is pro-life and believes that life begins at conception but argued that decriminalisation of abortion is a matter of equality.

Illum says that the Office of the Ombudsman faces uncertainty as the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader fail to agree on the appointment of a new Ombudsman. The role requires a two-thirds majority vote in parliament.

Il-Mument says that questions have been raised about the Film Commission’s role in persuading a Swedish production team to film part of a TV series at the Labour Party club in Sannat. The paper says that commission chairman Johann Grech has links to the PL.

It-Torċa carries an interview with psychiatrist Mark Xuereb who expressed concern about the effects of the pandemic on mental health among workers. Xuereb said that front-liners are especially affected and called for a national strategy to support their mental wellbeing.

The Independent on Sunday publishes an interview with TV director Steven Dalli who revealed that he has Tourettes Syndrome. He said that he would choose to be born with the disorder again and wants to raise awareness about it.

Illum reports on Destiny’s Eurovision journey beginning officially this week. Local followers of the song contest speaking to the paper, rate the song highly and wished the young singer well.

The Sunday Times speaks to sources within the Labour Party who said that the Prime Minister is not expected to decide on the election date before August, giving him time to assess the Covid-19 situation.

It-Torċa reports that a Canadian company in the medicinal cannabis space was awarded a licence to operate in Malta. ZenPharm is expected to export products to other EU countries, with Germany a major market.

Il-Mument says that PN MP Toni Abela was cleared of corruption charges related to works on a party club in 2012. The Nationalist Party welcomed the notification by the police and said that attempts to attack Bezzina proved futile. 

Morning Briefing

Yorgen Fenech files constitutional case requesting bail

Yorgen Fenech, who stands accused of being the mastermind of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, has filed Constitutional proceedings over the court’s refusal to grant him bail. The case will be heard on Wednesday by Magistrate Myriam Hayman.

Fenech is arguing that he has spent more than 500 days in custody while still presumed innocent, on grounds that, his lawyers have argued, have no basis in law and which are unconstitutional.

MP Toni Bezzina cleared

Shadow Transport Minister Toni Bezzina has been given the all-clear by police after an investigation into alleged corruption dating back to 2012.
The MP was told on Saturday that there was no case against him. He was investigated on allegations raised by Labour media that he investigation he had government workers to carry out works on a PN club in his constituency of Żurrieq.

Psychiatrists join chorus of bodies warning on new cannabis law

Regular cannabis use is associated with increased risk of schizophrenia, and by impacting brain maturation, may also negatively interact with depression, bipolar mood disorder and anxiety disorders, the Maltese Association of Psychiatrists said. The organisation called for improved support for prevention, early identification and cannabis cessation treatments within the framework of mental health and addictions.

Covid-19 Update

Four new cases were reported on Saturday, while seven patients recovered, reducing the total number of active cases in the country down to 177. No new deaths were reported.

CDE News