Prison Director self-suspends after umpteenth tragedy / Malta News Briefing – Wednesday 10 November 2021

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Times of Malta says that Financial crimes investigators who seized electronic equipment from the home of a former senior official at Pilatus Bank in April still have to establish if the data is relevant to money laundering proceedings pending in court.

MaltaToday says that the Planning Authority (PA) has reversed the decision that would have restricted public access to objections, presented by the public on different projects.

Newsbook says that the head of detention services Robert Brincau has been appointed as acting CEO of the Correctional Services Agency.

TVM says that 53-year-old Roderick Tanti has been remanded in custody after being arraigned in Court and charged with trafficking of cocaine and possession of cannabis resin, as well as money laundering.

Updated 1245 – Mid-Day Briefing

Prison Director self-suspends after umpteenth tragedy: Yet another tragedy has been consumed behind Malta’s prison walls this morning with an Indian citizen working in Malta taking his own life. Shortly after, Prisons Director Alex Dalli suspended himself. “Initial investigations indicate that the cause of death was suicide as a note by the victim was found,” the prison authorities said in a statement. Calls for the resignation of Minister Byron Camilleri and Alex Dalli were made by various sources this morning. The victim is the 14th person to lose his life within the prison walls over the past three years. Magistrate Nadine Lia is holding an inquiry on the incident.

Bernard Grech in categorical anti-abortion stance: PN leader Bernard Grech sought to close off the debate within the Nationalist Party with regard to abortion. “You can’t be in favour of abortion and be part of the PN”, he insisted on the party radio today, adding that as long as he remains party leader, nobody will be in favour of abortion and be in this party or as a representative of the party. He also accused Labour of weaponising this important issue against the PN.

PN MP, former Ministers, distance themselves from Muscat’s comments: Former PN Ministers Tonio Fenech and Austin Gatt, as well as current MP Claudio Grech refused ‘revolving door’ allegations made towards them by former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. The latter was reacting to a story that he received €60,000 from a Swiss company who had in turn received millions from Steward Healthcare. Muscat insisted that the payment was for normal, documented consultancy work, adding that there had been no such antagonism to similar posts taken up by the three Nationalist exponents. Both Fenech and Gatt however explained that they took up no employment with companies which had been contracted by their respective administrations, while Grech pointed out how his appointment as CEO at Smart City was approved unanimously in the House.

Covid-19 Update: Active coronavirus cases climbed to 435 on Wednesday after 38 new cases were reported by health authorities, with only nine persons recovering. 14 persons are now in hospital, four in intensive care.

Morning Briefing

PN calls for investigation on dubious Muscat money transfers: PN leader Bernard Grech has re-iterated his calls for the police to investigate “dubious money transfers” received by former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Writing on Facebook, Grech accused the authorities of going behind small businesses and professionals, while leaving the “big fish” untouched.
Grech said the police are obliged to immediately investigate the reasons behind the Muscat payments. (Times of Malta)

Parliament committee accepts report finding Cutajar in breach of ethics: The parliament’s standards committee has accepted the conclusions of a report that found Rosianne Cutajar breached ethics when failing to declare income from a property deal for Yorgen Fenech. Standards Commissioner George Hyzler concluded in July that Cutajar breached ethics when she failed to declare brokerage fees she received from the deal in her parliamentary declaration. He also recommended that his findings be passed on to the Tax Commissioner for further investigation. Labour and PN MPs voted unanimously for the report’s approval. (Maltatoday)

PA removes objections from public view: The Planning Authority has removed all objections filed by members of the public to any planning application from view on its public database. Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia said he was not aware of the change. A spokesperson to the Minister said that “The Minister was not informed of this decision by the PA. He strongly believes that the PA should be transparent in its work and has asked the PA and IDPC [Information and Data Protection Commissioner] for an explanation.” (Independent)

Covid-19 Update: There were 35 new Covid-19 cases as 10 people recovered. 13 people are being treated at Mater Dei hospital, 4 of whom are in the ITU. (CDE News)

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