Opposition maintains Police Commissioner and Attorney General should be appointed through a two-thirds majority in parliament, as Delia emphasises need to rebuild trust in country’s institutions
Malta now finds itself in extreme circumstances, with a journalist being assassinated in order to be silenced, Opposition Leader Adrian Delia said this morning.
He reiterated that the Prime Minister was responsible for Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, since it was he who created the situation in which institutional controls eroded and weakened, allowing for the assassination to happen.
Interviewed on Radio 101 this morning, Delia highlighted the fact that he was talking about political, not criminal, responsibility. Describing Caruana Galizia as having strongly critical political views, he said this made her murder both an attack on democracy and on a person’s freedom to express their opinion.
“Monday changed everything,” he said, “After all the things we criticised the government for doing, we now have proof of what it has led to.”
Criticising the Prime Minister’s decision to appoint one police commissioner after another, Delia said that current commissioner Lawrence Cutajar was a political object in the hands of the government and was placed in his post solely because he was someone who would not carry out his duties under the law.
Cutajar was not capable of providing protection to a person who clearly required it, and to whom he was duty-bound to safeguard, even if Caruana Galizia refused police protection. The funds from the €1 million reward offered by the government for information which could lead to finding the perpetrator should have instead been used to offer protection to the journalist and prevent her murder in the first place, according to Delia.
The Attorney General had also been rendered incapable of acting according to his duties, Delia added. He explained that the rule of law and the doctrine of the separation of powers meant that the police, attorney general, and the courts had to be independent and autonomous from government. However, government had, over the last few years, not limited itself to executive decisions, but had intervened in the affairs of the police commissioner and attorney general, contrary to the separation of powers.
Emphasising the need to rebuild Malta’s institutions, which had been eroded in the past four and a half years, Delia said that this could only be done if national decisions were taken with a long-term view, and not in a short-term partisan fashion which only served the party in government. The Opposition, he said, was asserting that the appointment of police commissioners and attorney general should require a two-thirds parliamentary majority, and he could not understand why the government did not come out in favour of this, as it would be for the benefit of the country.
Asked about allegations by Mario Michele Giarrusso – a Five Star Movement senator who was scheduled to form part of an anti-mafia commission which is visiting Malta but said he had been declared a persona non grata on the island after he said that the government should resign for failing to protect Caruana Galizia – Delia said that if this was true, the government was resisting freedom of expression and criticism. The government has since issued a statement saying it has never been consulted, or expressed itself, formally or informally, about any member of the anti-mafia commission.
Delia also noted that Malta is currently being scrutinised by the international media, and it has emerged through such foreign media that the island has been used for money laundering in recent years.
His question to the government on whether the police had undertaken secure border control, by closing air and seaports immediately following the murder, had not yet been answered.
“We need to understand the state the government has brought the country to,” he said. “The opposition will not be afraid, its voice will not be silenced, and it will defend the institutions and fight for the rule of law to be restored in Malta.”