Updated 1745- News Portal Briefing
Times of Malta reports that lecturers, staff faced long waits as they lined up for a COVID-19 vaccine
MaltaToday reports that Libyan prime minister designate Abdul Hamid Dbeibah has asked Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo for Malta’s support on travel visas, flights and bank accounts for Libyan nationals
Newsbook reports that All imports of second hand agricultural machinery imported from third countries including the United Kingdom will be subjected to import control by the Plant Protection Directorate, as from 1 March, the government announced in a notice on Tuesday.
TVM reports that Matthew Camilleri appeared in Court today charged with stealing jewellery and other items from the apartment of an elderly couple in Attard.
Updated 1600 – Restrictions on bars to be extended
Health Minister Chris Fearne announced that bars and band clubs will remain shut in March but some care homes will see measures relaxed due to the success of the vaccine. The Deputy PM added that Malta was “doing well” with its vaccine roll out.
On the other hand, restaurants that had a curfew of 11pm in February, will have their opening hours extended to midnight. He also revealed that the UK variant of the COVID-19 virus made up 8% of all new Malta cases over the last week
Updated 1245 – Covid-19 Update
Malta’s Covid-19 infection rate continues on its increasing trend with another 226 people tested positive for COVID-19 between Tuesday and Wednesday. 220 persons have since recovery. The numbers were identified through 2,273 swab tests. The number of active cases stands at 2,504.
In addition, two new deaths have taking the total fatality count to 308. The latest victims were aged 97 and 84 respectively.
Updated 1129 – Jobless up by 984
In January, the number of persons registering for work stood at 2,675, increasing by 984 when compared to the corresponding month in 2020.
Data provided by Jobsplus for January 2021 and released by NSO this morning indicates a year-on-year increase of 904 persons registering under Part I and an additional 80 persons registering under Part II of the unemployment register. Registered unemployment levels increased across all age groups.
The largest increase was recorded among persons who had been registering between 21 and 52 weeks. On the other hand, those who had been registering for work for more than one year, decreased when compared to the same month in 2020.
The number of persons with a disability who were registering for work increased by 20 when compared
to the previous year, reaching 251.
The largest share of males and females on the unemployment register sought occupations as clerical
support workers, with 21.3 per cent and 39.5 per cent respectively.
Updated 0835 – Newspaper Review
The Times leads with a plea bargain for Vincent Muscat, who admitted to his material role in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Muscat received a reduced jail term of 15 years and fined €42,000.
Malta Today reports on the arrest of brothers Adrian and Robert Agius, known as Tal-Maksar, and their associate Jamie Vella on Tuesday. The men are suspected to have supplied the bomb that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia.
In-Nazzjon follows the court sitting on Tuesday during which Judge Edwina Grima repeatedly asked Vincent Muscat whether he was sure he wanted to plead guilty to his role in the Caruana Galizia murder. The 58-year-old, known as Il-Koħħu, confirmed his intention.
L-Orizzont reports that Vincent Muscat has been granted a presidential pardon for his involvement in a 2015 killing of Carmel Chircop, a lawyer. The pardon was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.
The Independent quotes a statement by the Caruana Galizia family expressing their hope that the guilty plea by Vincent Muscat may lead to “complete justice” for the murdered journalist. They said that the killing should have been avoided.
In-Nazzjon quotes a tweet by Opposition Leader Bernard Grech which said that, had the institutions not been “hijacked” by people in power, Daphne Caruana Galizia would still have been alive. He praised those who showed perseverance in pursuing justice.
L-Orizzont speaks to Animal Welfare Commissioner Alison Bezzina who supports calls for a free public hospital for animals. She added that animals deserve to be treated well and should not be treated as commodities.
In-Nazzjon covers a visit by PN Leader Bernard Grech to the business community in Ħaż-Żebbuġ. In his comments to the media, he said that businesses that feel abandoned by the government will find support in the PN.
L-Orizzont says that vaccination in homes for the elderly will be complete by the end of next week. Minister for Active Ageing Michael Farrugia said that the jab is being administered to both residents and staff members.
Vince Muscat sentenced to prison for Caruana Galizia murder, receives pardon on Chircop murder
A number of key developments surrounding Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assisination took place yesterday in what could turn to be a significant turn of events. Earlier in the day, Vince Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. He will also pay €42,000 in court expenses, after reaching a plea bargain deal with prosecutors to provide information about the murder as well as other crimes, most notably on the killing of lawyer Carmel Chircop.
A few hours later, Tal-Maksar brothers Adrian and Robert Agius and their associate Jamie Vella were arrested by the police on suspicions of having supplied the bomb used to assasinate the journalist. The three had already been arrested, with others, a few months after the brutal killing but were later released after no charges were pressed.
Il-Kohhu has been granted a Presidential Pardon with regard to this killing, with Muscat being understood to be able to give further information on who was behind the killing of Chircop and how the murder plot was executed. As part of the deal reached with authorities, Muscat accepted to returns the proceeds of crime he received in connection to the homicide.
Rule of law reigns – PM
Addressing the media in the evening, Prime Minister Robert Abela said that what had happened during the day confirmed that the institutions and the rule of law in our country were working. He also confirmed that Cabinet had approved the above pardon, which Government will be publishing in the sake of transparency. He added that no politicians were found to be involved in the journalist’s murder so far.
Family hopes new events will lead to justice
The family of journalist Caruana Galizia expressed hope that these events will lead to complete justice for the journalist. Family lawyer Jason Azzopardi said in a statement on the family’s behalf that the “macabre killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia was intentional and should have been avoided. The victim paid for it with her life, and the family are paying for the loss of a loved one.”
“But in these circumstances, and since it has been informed by the Attorney General, the family expresses their hope that this development begins leading to complete justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia”.
The Health Department reported 221 new cases of coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, with 191 recovering. The number of active cases has reached 2,500. 3,274 swab tests were carried out in the past 24 hours.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths linked to Covid-19 has reached 306.