Malta PM to resign amid pressure over journalist murder probe

Published December 2, 2019
ANTI-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.—Reuters
ANTI-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.—Reuters

VALLETTA: Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, under fire over his handling of the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, said on Sunday he would step down after his replacement is chosen in January.

Muscat declined to make a link with Caruana Galizia’s 2017 murder, saying in a televised address that he was resigning “as this is what needs to be done.” The announcement came after two weeks of mounting pressure and popular protests calling for Muscat to quit for his handling of the probe into Caruana Galizia’s car bomb killing.

Muscat said he would resign after his successor is chosen by January 12.

Earlier Sunday, the Labour leader got the unanimous backing of part MPs at an emergency meeting called a day after tycoon Yorgen Fenech was charged with complicity in the murder. A court has also frozen Fenech’s assets.

The investigation has rocked the southern Mediterranean island, reaching the highest echelons of government.

Critics including members of Caruana Galizia’s family have accused Muscat, 45, of protecting those involved in murdering the popular journalist and blogger who exposed cronyism and sleaze within the tiny country’s political and business elite.

“I reiterate my deepest regret that a person who, with all her positive and negative qualities and contribution towards the democracy of our country, was killed in such a brutal way,” Muscat said on Sunday.

“Justice is being done. And I will see that justice is for everyone.

Investigations are not complete. No one is above justice,” Muscat said.

Meeting at Muscat’s summer home, MPs earlier Sunday agreed to reinstate Chris Cardona as economy minister and deputy leader.

Cardona had announced last week that he was “suspending himself” as the investigation into the killing of Caruana Galizia, a mother-of-three, in a brutal attack implicated top government officials.

Last week, the scandal claimed the scalps of Muscat’s top aide Keith Schembri and the former tourism minister, Konrad Mizzi.

Police sources said Fenech had identified Schembri as the “real mastermind” behind the killing.

Caruana Galizia, described as a “one-woman WikiLeaks”, accused Schembri of corruption along with Mizzi and Cardona.

Caruana Galizia’s family and thousands of protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets calling for Muscat’s resignation.

Protesters including Caruana Galizia’s elderly parents on Sunday marched through central Valletta carrying signs reading “Mafia” and “Daphne was right”, slamming Muscat as “an obstacle to justice”.

On Saturday, party insiders told AFP that Muscat was ready to go once those behind the killing had been charged.

A European Parliament delegation is due to arrive on Malta late Monday and stay until Wednesday.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2019

Opinion

Digital finance
17 Jan 2021

Digital finance

Raast offers opportunities for inclusion, but is not without risk.
Broadsheetgate
Updated 17 Jan 2021

Broadsheetgate

The competence that has underlined NAB and its actions has cost us dearly now and even in 2008.
Debate on ordinances
17 Jan 2021

Debate on ordinances

The government’s line of thinking indicates a belief in the principle of brute majority.
America in decline?
Updated 16 Jan 2021

America in decline?

In spite of the ‘gates’ that rocked the US, democracy stood firm.

Editorial

Updated 17 Jan 2021

Foreign funding case

THE Election Commission of Pakistan has summoned both the PML-N and PPP on Monday in connection with the foreign...
17 Jan 2021

Vaccine procurement

ALL eyes are on the government as it pledges to roll out the Covid-19 vaccination programme to about 80m citizens by...
17 Jan 2021

Makli ‘renovation’

THERE are fears that the recently conducted ‘renovation’ work carried out at the Makli necropolis may rob the...
16 Jan 2021

Gas liberalisation

AFTER drawing much criticism from both consumers and the opposition over its mismanagement of the energy sector that...
16 Jan 2021

Osama Satti inquiry

THE findings of the judicial inquiry into the Jan 2 killing of 21-year-old Osama Satti in Islamabad merely confirms...
Updated 16 Jan 2021

British MP on IHK

DESPITE sustained efforts by New Delhi’s rulers to remove India-held Kashmir from the global discourse, people of...