MEPs investigating the rule of law in Malta were highly critical of the lack of police investigations into corruption allegations as well as the “shocking” lack of follow up on leads into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
In their report published today following their visit in November last year, the month following Caruana Galizia’s assassination, the delegation of cross-party MEPs said police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar refused to meet them, “arguing in writing in the evening before the visit that they were not a formal European Parliament mission”.
This a line similar to that previously adopted by the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri when called to meet the MEP delegation.
The MEPs were clear in their conclusion: “The investigation on the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia is stalling. People we spoke to suspect that the plan may be ensure the blame rests with the three suspected bombers and to eventually let them go free, after 20 months of detention”.
“The police is ostensibly not following any leads into who ordered the assassination. Excuses provided go from lack of resources to impossibility to investigate all people exposed by the deceased who might have had a motive to silence her,” they said.
They added that they were “shocked” the police did not thoroughly investigate witness accounts published by the international media that economy minister Chris Cardona had been drinking in a Siggiewi bar with one of the suspects prior to their arrest.
There is no communication between the magisterial investigation and that of the police, MEPs said. In Malta it is the police who controls the inquiry, not the judiciary. The magistrate depends on investigations and information by the police to move forward, but there seems to be no co-operation.
“No Malta Secret Services’ records on the murder suspect that had been under surveillance, prior to and after the murder, were provided to the magisterial inquiry so far,” the MEPs said.
They noted that Magistrate Anthony Vella, who has been in charge of the inquiry into the assassination, has recently been offered a promotion to become judge, meaning he would be leaving the case in a few weeks. “This is interpreted by many as a way to delay and stall the investigation”.
MEPs also pointed out that several cases of corruption and money laundering exposed by the press were not leading to any investigations. They referred to cases such as the sale of passports (IIP), Enemalta SOCAR contracts, the privatisation of public hospitals to unknown owners, oil smuggling from Libya and the American University.
Instead, critics are insulted and threatened, the MEPs said noting that several members of the government, including the Prime Minister, are active members of secret Facebook online groups used for the purpose that were exposed as a result of a six-month investigation by The Shift News.
The visit to Malta included Socialist MEP Ana Gomes, Greens MEP Sven Giegold and EPP/PN MEP David Casa. All three MEPs were set up as targets in the secret Labour online groups.
They were called “traitors” who have an agenda against Malta because others are jealous of its success. Giegold was called “a snake,” and Casa was set up as Hitler for ‘the traitor that he is’. Gomes got the added privilege of being called a “bitch” that should “go and clean up [her] home first”.
The MEPs made several recommendations in their report, after speaking to a number of stakeholders in Malta during their visit. Read the full report here.