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State responsible for Caruana Galizia assassination: inquiry / Malta News Briefing – Thursday 29 July 2021

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Update 1931 – Prime Minister Robert Abela has apologised for the shortcomings by the State that led to the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. PM said he had called on Parliament to convene on Friday to discuss the report. “While we still need to analyse the report in detail, I am in a position to be very clear in principle. We must learn the lessons found in this report and will start the process to implement its recommendations.”

“No one expected the impact of what happened in October 2017 to go away overnight. This is a wound that will heal slowly, and we must never fall for the temptation of forgetting what happened.  More than a way of reacting, this report should be another step in this process of healing.” Fielding questions, Abela said he does not feel that the current administration has lost its legitimacy, insisting that it has a mandate to govern. The government will serve out its mandate to the end, he said.

Asked if he would kick Joseph Muscat out of the PL, he said his predecessor had stepped down and today occupies no roles in government or the Labour Party. Asked whether he would act against ministers who formed part of Muscat’s Cabinet, Abela said these are people who have worked tirelessly on good governance reforms. He said he does not expect any of these Cabinet members to resign because there was no such recommendation in the inquiry report. He noted that a number of individuals who had been linked to scandals had resigned from government and the Labour Party and did not contest any other elections. “These are our credentials on good governance.” On his former role as an advisor to Muscat, Abela said there was no reference about this in the inquiry report and he had not even been summoned to testify before the inquiry.- Malta Independent

The leader of the Opposition Bernard Grech has called on Prime Minister Robert Abela to denounce Joseph Muscat.  “Today’s conclusions show us that the state was responsible for the impunity which led to her murder, and criminals were assured that their tracks were covered,” he said. 

Grech insisted that Abela was an accomplice to these acts, having formed part of Muscat’s cabinet during the time of her death.  The PN leader said that MPs who held cabinet roles in 2017, have to shoulder their responsibility and resign.  “Let’s see what excuse he will find to keep them on,” Grech said.  He also said that Abela should distance himself from the “Muscat legacy” and remove him from the Labour Party. “Only then will we start moving on from this chapter.”  He also said the PM should apologise to the slain journalist’s family following the inquiry conclusions. MaltaToday

The family of Daphne Caruana Galizia has welcomed the findings of a public inquiry into her assassination, saying they confirm what the family believed from the moment of the journalist’s murder. In a statement released hours after the inquiry report was published, they said they hoped the findings would restore rule of law to Malta. Earlier, one of the journalist’s three sons, Paul Caruana Galizia said his mother would have been alive had it not been for the “total collapse of the rule of law” generated by those in the heart of government.  “It’s been like one long day since we started hammering out Malta’s first public inquiry in November 2017 with all our exceptional, tireless, brave lawyers,” he said. “Today: The State of Malta must be held responsible for my mother’s assassination.” Times of Malta

Latest Update- News Portal Briefing

Times of Malta reports that former prime minister Joseph Muscat has been singled out by an inquiry board for enabling a culture of impunity in the lead up to journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination.

MaltaToday reports that a board of inquiry appointed to investigate the circumstances leading to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, has called for the appointment of a police unit entrusted with protecting journalists from intimidation.

Newsbook reports that Speaker Anglu Farrugia came to government’s aid today as he effectively blocked the Opposition’s attempt to call a number of witnesses in the Rosianne Cutajar ethics probe.

TVM reports that George and Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat have lost their Constitutional case in which they complained about the way they had been arrested.

Updated 1143

The inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia came to the conclusion that the State was responsible for her death, pointing towards a “culture of impunity” at the highest levels in Castille, but also in other regulatory bodies. The judges noted a complete collapse of the rule of law, saying the state failed to recognise the real and immediate risks to Caruana Galizia’s life. The judges appealed for steps to be taken to regulate the links between politicians and big business.

The report said that  death the responsibility of the State stemmed from the fact that it had “created an atmosphere of impunity, generated by the highest echelons at the heart of Castille and which, like an octopus, spread to other entities and regulators and the Police, leading to the collapse of rule of law.” Times of Malta / Maltatoday

Earlier:

Prime Minister Robert Abela has asked Speaker Anġlu Farrugia to reconvene Parliament on Friday morning to discuss the Daphne Caruana Galizia inquiry report, which he received on Thursday and which he said he will publish on Friday.

In a letter to Parliamentary Speaker Anġlu Farrugia, Abela said that he received the inquiry report earlier on Thursday, and intended on publishing it later that day. 

“While the terms of the inquiry ask only for me to table the report in Parliament, I believe that we must do more and hold a discussion on this as soon as possible,” Abela wrote. Times of Malta / Maltatoday

Updated 0845: Newspaper Review

The Independent says that the parliamentary ethics committee is meeting again today to discuss the Standards Commissioner report on Rosianne Cutajar. In the last meeting, the government disagreed with an opposition motion to sanction the MP.  

Business Today publishes an interview with the CEO of Malta Enterprise Kurt Farrugia who explained that the agency is shifting focus to investment by small-to-medium high-value companies in specialised fields such as AI, ICT, and life sciences.

The Malta Business Weekly speaks with the director of Friends of the Earth, Martin de Giovanni, who welcomed a government 20-year commitment to finance renewable energy projects. He said that public funding facilitates the shift to renewable sources.

In-Nazzjon quotes a letter by Opposition Leader Bernard Grech to Prime Minister Robert Abela urging a common response to the conclusions of the Caruana Galizia public inquiry. Grech called for cross-party actions to help the country heal.

The Times reports that the monthly average of births between January and April was 365, slightly below that registered in the last five years. Global trends also indicate that a predicted baby boom encouraged by lockdowns did not take place.

L-Orizzont quotes the Permanent Secretary in the Education Ministry, Frank Fabri, that persons with backgrounds outside the education sector are entering the field. He said that the phenomenon needs further investigation.  

The Times says that the police have not yet established the connection between a Maltese teenager and his victim, a British man who was stabbed in the chest with a kitchen knife. Investigators are speaking with eyewitnesses, some of whom are believed to be children.

L-Orizzont reports on a one-person counter-demonstration in Italy facing down protestors against Covid-19 vaccinations. The demonstrator is the son of one of the first doctors to die as a result of the pandemic.

The Independent reports that two Covid-19 patients died while receiving treatment at Mater Dei on Wednesday. Aged 95 and 86, the victims bring the total number of deaths from the virus to 423.

In-Nazzjon says that the average age of Covid-19 patients stands at 35 as active cases hover around 2,200. Health authorities said on Wednesday that 36 people are being treated at Mater Dei, one of whom is in intensive care.

Business Today quotes a report by the Central Bank projecting further economic expansion this year following low growth in 2020. The Business Conditions Index for June showed signs of sustained recovery.

Morning Briefing

Wage supplement tapering to start shortly: Government has informed social partner that as the economic recovery gains ground, it will be commencing a gradual tapering of the wage supplement scheme. The initiative had been launched in March of last year. The entities which suffered the most from the pandemic will still receive the full amount, while those in other categories deemed to have faced a lesser impact, will receive a much lesser amount, estimated to be around one-third of the present amount. This tapering is expected to commence next month.

UHM slams Covid-19 workplace measures: The UHM has slammed employers for ‘behaving like a mini-public health authority’ by introducting Covid-19 measues. The Unions said such measures were confusing at a time when a clear strategy was needed. “This Union has always urged workers to comply with the policies and procedures issued by the Health Authorities and is not willing to accept public health policies drafted by the employers,” the UHM said, in what appeared to be a dig at requests for staff to be vaccinated or stand for regular PCR tests.

Covid-19 Update: 91 new cases of coronavirus were reported on Wednesday, with recoveries reaching 125. These were identified from 3,862 swab tests. Active cases stand at 2,194.Two men, aged 95 and 85 died while Covid-19 positive at Mater dei Hospital. A total of 36 positive patients are currently being treated at the hospital.