Hibernians FC team manager Jesmond Abela, the man behind disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s plan to take over the presidency of the Malta Football Association (MFA), has finally reported back to work after a long absence on sick leave.
Abela, known as ‘Il-Hutch’, was put on the public payroll as a ‘project management specialist’ at Projects Plus in 2017 but has been absent from work on unspecified sick leave since March 2021 while receiving a full salary.
During the period when he was declared not fit for work, Abela was seen attending football matches of his favourite team, as well as helping Labour candidate and now Parliamentary Secretary Chris Bonett to win a seat in parliament during the last general elections.
Projects Plus CEO James Camenzuli is refusing to reply to questions on Abela’s long absence from work. This week, ‘Il-Hutch’ was seen in Dublin, Ireland, accompanying Hibernians FC in a European international match.
Asked by The Shift for an investigation into this alleged abuse by a government employee and his employers, Minister Aaron Farrugia did not reply.
However, Projects Plus sources confirmed that Abela “suddenly” turned up for work after more than a year’s absence soon after The Shift’s report was published last Sunday.
Contacted by The Shift about whether he was still on sick leave while in Dublin, Abela said, “I am at work at the moment”, adding that if The Shift wanted answers, they should send an email.
Asked to give his email address, Abela said, “I don’t know what my email is. If they [his bosses] want, they can answer for me.” And then he hung up.
Project Plus sources told The Shift that while Abela was given a lucrative taxpayer-funded financial package, no one really knows what he is supposed to be doing to earn it.
Despite being given the title of ‘specialist’, he has no qualifications. His social media profile states he was ‘educated’ in Paola Square.
Sources said Abela was originally supposed to coordinate work related to a new ground the government was building for the Hibernians FC at Kordin, but no progress has been made on this vote-catching initiative since it was announced in 2017.