Abela ‘in no position’ to decide on Koħħu’s pardon – ADPD

PM branded ‘lawyer for Malta’s underworld’

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

News that Prime Minister Robert Abela had been a lawyer of the notorious Ta’ Maksar brothers – suspected to have supplied the bomb that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia – and is considering to recuse himself from deciding on a presidential pardon that could lead to their prosecution has been met with opprobrium by ADPD.

The party has insisted that Abela is in no position to decide on the pardon, with its chairperson Carmel Cacopardo going as far as highlighting Abela’s previous life as a “practising lawyer of the underworld.”

That Abela had represented the Ta’ Maksar brothers – Robert and Adrian Agius – between 2012 and 2016 was revealed by the Sunday Times of Malta. The newspaper added that while Abela was considering to recuse himself from a decision on recommending a potential pardon to alleged hitman Vincent Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, he saw no reason to do so as of yet.

But ADPD highlighted how the future of the Agius brothers potentially lay in the hands of their former lawyers, and that this showed “the extent of influence that the Maltese underworld may potentially exert over the Maltese political and justice system.”

“The Prime Minister has a duty to ensure that the legal process is not tainted by any form of conflict, which his previous life as a practising lawyer of the underworld seems to suggest. A decision on a pardon for evidence that could bring more people to account for the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia should therefore not rest with him,” Cacopardo insisted.

The party called for immediate and urgent legal reforms so that such decisions could be taken by a special prosecutor appointed from among Malta’s judiciary.

Abela ‘should not dare interfere’ in Daphne inquiry – Cassola

Meanwhile, independent candidate and former AD chairperson Arnold Cassola said that there were at least three reasons why Abela should not interfere in the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, which he is insisting should conclude by no later than December.

The first reason brought up by Cassola was that the inquiry was investigating the responsibilities of the state in not protecting Daphne.

He also noted that one of the indicted persons was Abela’s former ‘employer:’ “the protector of criminals and assassins, Joseph Muscat.” Cassola observed that Abela and his law firm received over €500,000 in government contracts in Muscat’s first term, and that even after he became an MP in 2017, the firm received a €130,000 direct order.

The third reason cited by Cassola was Abela’s past ties with the Agius brothers.

“Robert Abela is in no position to decide about the inquiry,” Cassola maintained. “Any attempt of his to do so can only be interpreted as an attempt to try and protect his former political boss, Joseph Muscat.”