The government is yet to list and communicate the “serious inaccuracies” in the report by the Council of Europe’s Special Rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt despite statements critical of the report in the aftermath of its publication.
In the days following the report’s leak, and before its adoption by the Legal Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici had said the report was “riddled with inaccurate and gratuitous statements” and that the government would be putting forward its points.
“There are quite a few detailed stories in the report, and it is all very nice to tell of inaccuracies, but I am still waiting for a list of them,” Omtzigt told The Shift News.
“Since they are unable to produce that list I take that for them to say that the report is fairly accurate,” he added.
Despite the Maltese government presenting close to 50 amendments to the report while it was being discussed at the Legal Affairs committee, each one was shot down.
The report was adopted on 29 May. Legal experts told The Shift News that the next step was for the report to be debated at the next Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg next week that would culminate in an adoption of the resolution by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
If the government publicly claims that there are inaccuracies, at some point it should publicly state what these inaccuracies are.
The government is not required or even expected to respond to a report or a draft resolution other than its response once adopted by the PACE. But legal sources said that “if the government publicly claims that there are inaccuracies, at some point it should publicly state what these inaccuracies are”.
Beyond the objections raised by Labour MP Manuel Mallia at the hearing on the report, the government has not explained any inaccuracies in the report. On the other hand, Mallia got caught out lobbying other Maltese MPs that form part of the delegation to “lobby against Omtzigt’s report” ahead of EU leaders meeting for the South Summit in Malta last week.
‘It’s an assassination’
Omtzigt’s report looks into the failures in the investigation of the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017, listing 10 concerns and recommending the launch of an independent public inquiry within three months.
Omtizgt said he was shocked by a recent statement from the Head of Government Communications Kurt Farrugia who said the word “assassination” was politically loaded and a term that he refuted.
“I know of nobody who has an alternative explanation for this being an assassination. Car bombs on the car in peoples’ homes are not placed by mistake. They are not accidents; it was not an accident, it was a car bomb,” Omtzigt said.
It was not an accident, it was a car bomb.
He adds that, so far, there has not been anybody put on trial for placing the bombs – the three suspects are still at the stage of compilation of evidence close to two years after their arrest. They are about to be released soon if the Attorney General does not file an indictment.
“We still have not seen anybody put on trial for placing the bombs. And we basically have no clue who ordered or masterminded it. But it is an assassination, and I find it quite worrying that even that is being disputed,” Omtzigt said.
“I am looking forward to hearing from the Maltese Government, first a reply to my report and secondly an explanation of how this cannot be an assassination,” he added.
He pointed out that despite the Maltese government putting forward close to 50 amendments to his report on the failures of the investigation into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and the rule of law in Malta, the government had not objected to the word “assassination” in the title.
“You can actually amend the title, or try to, and assassination is in the title. If they dispute that bit then they should have put forward an amendment to the title, which they didn’t”.