Eleven international organisations working on human rights and freedom of expression have called on EU leaders meeting today to urge Joseph Muscat to end his ongoing interference with the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder investigation.
The organisations are all on EU leaders to urge Prime Minister Muscat to guarantee that all legal proceedings will be impartial, independent and without any executive interference.
“Recent developments in the investigation have shown that Muscat is inextricably linked to several suspects in the case,” the organisations said.
The call was made by ARTICLE 19, Reporters Without Borders, Index on Censorship, Committee to Protect Journalists, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, IFEX, International Federation of Journalists, International Press Institute, PEN International, Scottish PEN and Transparency International.
They outlined issues of concern. Yorgen Fenech, the former Head of the Electrogas Malta energy company and alleged mastermind of the murder, and Melvin Theuma, a government official and alleged middleman, have both confessed. But they have also implicated the Prime Minister’s former chief of staff Keith Schembri.
Fenech shares vested financial interests with Schembri as well as former Minister Konrad Mizzi through 17 Black – a shell company set up by Fenech to provide kickbacks to the two. Further information provided in court also indicates that a number of other staff within the Prime Minister’s office may also be involved, including one of his former close protection officers.
In addition to these emerging allegations, Muscat has consistently placed himself at the centre of the investigation, acting as the main source of information in relation to its progress including whether pardons will be given to suspects in exchange for evidence. The Police Commissioner and Attorney General have been absent from communications with the public and press, the organisations said.
“EU institutions have expressed their concern. On 3 December, the European Commissioner for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, asked in a phone call with Maltese Justice Minister Owen Bonnici that the investigation be brought to a conclusion without any political interference,” the groups stressed.
A mission to Malta last week by Members of the European Parliament found that Muscat “poses a risk, real or perceived, to [the] integrity of the murder investigation.” The mission also recommended that the European Commission “engage in a rule of law dialogue” with Malta with the hope of addressing concerns with the authorities. This is usually a step taken before looking at possible infringement procedures.