Equality before the law not for those close to PM – Delia

Reactions pour in on 17 Black libel case

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Leader of the Opposition Adrian Delia said in parliament that the Prime Minister on Monday showed that equality before the law was not applicable to those closest to him. Referring to the furore raised by the dropping of a libel suit agains the former leader of the opposition Simon Busuttil by PM’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, Delia said that Schembri’s motivation was to avoid self-incrimination.

In Court this morning, the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri announced that he will be withdrawing his libel case as “he felt that many of his fundamental and constitutional rights are being prejudiced.” Schembri was refusing to answer questions being asked to him by the Court. Leader of the Opposition Adrian Delia has stated that Schembri should either resign or be dismissed from his position.

Read: 17 Black: Schembri withdraws libel suit

In a statement, Delia insisted that Schembri did his utmost to avoid answering questions in Court, even though he opened the libel case himself. He added that the Chief of Staff decided not to criminalise himself under oath.

Delia has therefore called for the Prime Minister to see that if Schembri does not resign, he should be dismissed from his position immediately. 

“He ran away” – Simon Busuttil calls for resignations

While giving a comment to Newsbook.com.mt, lawyer Simon Busuttil called for Schembri’s resignation.

He added that if he had found that one of his Ministers was involved in the Panama scandal, he would have sacked them on the spot.

The former leader of Partit Nazzjonalista described how the Court warned Schembri that he must answer the questions during the cross-examination five times, and not doing so can include many consequences, including jail time.

After, instead of admitting defeat, Schembri “gave up his strategy, gave up the case, and ran away.” According to Busuttil, this is proof enough that he was correct in saying that the Chief of Staff is corrupt.

“Even Joseph muscat should carry responsibility”, added Busuttil. Therefore, he then called on the Prime Minister to resign also.

17 Black: PM ready to resign if inquest finds him connected

Busuttil did not fail to mention that Keith Schembri had agreed to testify in Court on October 16th, 2017; the same day Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated.

Repubblika points finger to Muscat

The rule of law NGO Repubblika insisted that today, Keith Schembri has made public that he holds information which can criminalise him. 

In a statement, Repubblika added that although everyone has the right to refuse to testify, a person in a high position of public authority making use of this right should resign immediately.

The NGO has now pointed its finger to the Prime Minister, who’s office is being run by “a person trying to avoid being arrested.”

Repubblika stated that Schembri’s position has not been tenable ever since Daphne Caruana Galizia revealed that he was involved in a secret company in Panama on February 2017.

“Schembri chickened out” – MP Karol Aquilina

On Twitter, Member of Parliament Karol Aquilina stated that Schembri has “chickened out of the cross-examination” not to risk possible self-incrimination in other ongoing criminal inquiries.

“Absolute coward” – MEP David Casa

MEP David Casawrote “after 3 years of avoiding the witness stand, Schembri drops the 17 Black case entirely to avoid giving evidence. 

‘EU doing what Malta didn’t about 17 Black’ – Casa

“He couldn’t allow himself to be questioned as he’d either had to admit to corruption + money laundering or commit perjury.”

Read more from this story:

17 Black: Up to €8m passed through the company says Reuters to Newsbook

“I don’t know anything about 17 Black or Macbridge” – Mizzi

17 Black: “No evidence of an inquiry”; “Electrogas whistleblower spoke out”