UPDATED: PM says Opposition Leader should ask for inquiry about DCG allegations against him – Adrian Delia says there is no need
Replying to the speech of the Opposition Leader, the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat avoided talking about the Budget and instead spoke about the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. He said that the Government is ready to do whatever it takes to catch the assassin and is considering a substantial monetary reward to help catch those who are responsible.
Dr Muscat defended the institutions and said that Government was ready to work for national unity without any conditions attached. The PM said that it is in the national interest to learn the truth and said that Opposition Leader Adrian Delia should ask for an inquiry into the allegations which Mrs Caruana Galizia had made against him and should declare that he would resign if any trace of evidence that they are true is found, just like he had done over the Egrant case.
PM Joseph Muscat said he would have liked to speak about the first Budget with a surplus and no taxes as a result of four years of hard work. However, in the light of what had happened to Mrs Caruana Galizia, no one should try to avoid this moment which separates the men and women from children. Dr Muscat said that the country is disgusted and people are expecting politicians to show the way for the country to come out of this more united than it was before. He said that contrary to the Leader of the Opposition, the Government will not be making any conditions for national unity.
Speaking about Mrs Caruana Galizia’s writings, the PM said she had liberal ideas with which he agreed, but others which displayed racist elements. He said that she could write insightful and well-researched pieces, but then also wrote others which were pure gossip. Dr Muscat said that he had only had contact with her four times in his life, including once when she phoned him to ask for his address to file a libel suit against him. He said that he has been the target of her criticism for 20 years and the attacks had continued to increase, culminating in what he described as the invention of the Egrant allegation. However he had never insulted her at any time, unlike the Opposition Leader. Having said that he was deeply upset about this murder and expressed his compassion to her family, while speaking in harsh terms about the assassin who has caused such great damage to the country.
He said that Mrs Caruana Galizia had given her full testimony in the inquiries which he himself had requested, however she will never testify in the allegations she has made about Adrian Delia. He said that it was in the interest of the country for the truth to come out. The PM said that the Opposition Leader has no other road but to do as he has done and ask for an inquiry about the allegations she made against him and bind himself to resign if evidence is found against him. The PM said that the Opposition Leader has a big problem, both with what he and those around him had said about Mrs Caruana Galizia and what she said about him. Dr Muscat referred to the threats which she said she had received from people who are close to the Opposition Leader and asked what Dr Delia was going to do about these threats.
The PM critisied the undermining of the institutions by the Opposition. He said that although he can be criticised the country’s institutions need to be respected. Dr Muscat defended the Police, the Army and the Attorney General from the attacks which the Opposition Leader made against them in Tuesday’s sitting. He reminded the House that because the Government has always respected the institutions, it has worked with the AG who was appointed by a Nationalist administration.
Dr Muscat said that prior to 2013, attacks were carried out on journalists when the front doors of Mrs Caruana Galizia and Saviour Balzan were burned and when a bomb was placed in front of Orizzont Editor Frans Ghirxi’s house. Other bombs were also let off in front of the Transport Malta offices. He said he was not sayng this to justify anything but to give context, because at the time no one said that they had no faith in the Police Force or the Magistrate or that freedom and democracy were being threatened.
The PM said that the Government would do everything it could to see that this extraordinary macrabre murder was solved. He said that was why foreign experts had been brought in who have the technology to carry out certain investigations on mobile phones. The Prime Minister said that there has also been contact with other countries so that if there is any other type of technology required for this investigation, it can be brought in as well.
He said that the Government is ready to even welcome the request made by the President of the People’s Party for any type of inquiry or scrutiny on this case. The PM said that he wants to send a clear message that whoever has any information should go to the inquiring Magistrate, who enjoys everyone’s trust. Dr Muscat said that the Government is considering a reward of an unprecedented substantial monetary value and protection to anyone who can reveal who commissioned this murder to be carried out and who carried it out.
Rection by Nationalist Party
Reacting to the PM’s speech in Parliament, Opposition Leader Adrian Delia said that he does not feel in his conscience that he should go to the inquiring Magistrate to ask for an investgiation into the allegations which Daphne Caruana Galizia had made against him.
When questioned by jouranlists about this, Dr Delia said he would co-operate with the investigation if he is asked to do so, and if there is the slightest evidence he would be ready to suffer the political consequences.
Asked whether he has investigated what Daphne Caruana Galizia herself wrote when she alleged that people close to Dr Delia were sending her threatening messsages, he said that this information never reached him. When asked whether he knows who was sending her threatening messages, Dr Delia said that he had never received such information.
Dr Delia said that PM Joseph Muscat had admitted that he would not shoulder any political responsbility for the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.