Police protection required for journalists at Joseph Muscat’s arraignment

Journalists covering the court hearing next week of disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat, who is facing charges of bribery, fraud, and money laundering, will have police protection for their safety in the wake of calls for Labour supporters to protest outside the courts.

Muscat is due to appear in court on 28 May to face charges filed by prosecutors at the Attorney General’s office and the police following the conclusion of a four-year magisterial inquiry on the privatisation of three of Malta’s public hospitals.

Muscat’s aides have been calling for people to gather outside court on the day to support him.

Since the inquiry was handed over to the Attorney General, government attacks on the independent media have been amplified.

Labour candidates for the European Parliament elections, Labour ‘persons of trust’ and others placed in positions of influence, as well as the prime minister himself, have been targeting journalists since the magisterial inquiry on the deal was handed to the Attorney General.

The IGM, the press association, requested police protection of journalists amid concerns that they would be targeted while doing their jobs.

“The IGM took a proactive approach to next week’s arraignments by writing to the police commissioner to ensure that journalists are afforded police protection, especially at this time of political tensions,” IGM president Matthew Xuereb told The Shift.

“Following talks with the police, several measures were agreed to ensure journalists would be able to carry out their work as safely as possible. I hope that our work is just a preemptive measure and that there are no incidents, especially involving members of the media,” he added.

On 11 May, the chair of Valletta Cultural Agency, Jason Micallef, used his time on a radio programme to display photos, taken surreptitiously, of chat messages received by Newsbook journalist Monique Agius on her laptop.

Micallef’s claims followed in the footsteps of Prime Minister Robert Abela, who targeted the same journalist a week earlier during a press conference, accusing her of her involvement with ‘the establishment’ as she tried to ask questions concerning the results of a magisterial inquiry into Vitals/Steward hospitals scandal.

The government’s open hostility towards journalists is well documented.

The IGM issued a stern condemnation earlier this month of recent attacks on members of the media, urging an immediate halt to the propagation of hate towards journalists and warning against the dangerous consequences of such actions.

“The prime minister should lead by example. He and all government exponents should not instigate hate towards journalists and the media. It is very dangerous and could have serious consequences, for which the IGM is holding the prime minister and the government responsible.”

Civil society organisations have also called out the prime minister’s “blatant attacks” on the judiciary and independent journalists.


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1 month ago

At least a part of the PL has shown his real face as an MAFIA Organization.
That part is covert with normal people who think all the other people are lying and it couldn’t be true.
So sad for them.
So sad for Malta.

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