Close to 20 hours after Neville Gafa revealed his damning accusation that he had been commissioned by the Office of the Prime Minister to organise the push back of migrants to Libya, the Government had not a single word in its defence. The story was exclusively broken by Newsbook.com.mt Wednesday late at night.
Who contacted Gafa?
Gafa did not name names with Newsbook.com.mt but this newsroom is reliably informed that he did give the name of the person who commissioned the operation while he was giving evidence to the inquiry led by Magistrate Joe Mifsud. It is reliably understood that Gafa would not have accepted this commission had he been approached by someone not in the highest of positions.
Neville Gafa’, who until recently was a person of trust at the Office of the Prime Minister admitted that he had co-ordinated the push back of the 51 migrants involved in the Pasquetta Tragedy. The sworn statement was made during the inquiry instituted after a formal request by the civil rights NGO Repubblika.
Abela will have to answer Magistrate
Prime Minister Abela was still at his office in Castille when the story was uploaded. He left sometime after 11.00p.m. The fact that no immediate denial was published while the Prime Minister was still in his office is considered by some observers as a silence that adds more credibility to Gafa’s revelations.
Abela will soon be giving evidence to the Mifsud inquiry where he will have to answer questions and present his side of the story. Gafa is not the Prime Minister’s darling. As soon as he became Prime Minister, Abela refused to renew Gafa’s contract as a person of trust.
Gafa also told Newsbook.com.mt that for the past three years under the direction of Prime Minister Muscat he had been coordinating efforts to stop migrants reaching Malta’s Search and Rescue Area. Gafa refused to accept the term ‘push back’ to the work he was doing, a result of which migrants were returned to Libya, described as a ‘hell for migrants’ by several NGOs.
Speaking to the Public Inquiry on the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Gafa claimed that had he not done this work there would have been a national crisis.
Prime Minister Robert Abela while answering questions in Parliament had already rubbished these claims by Gafa. Abela said that there was no such agreement between Malta and Libya.
Pushbacks not discussed in Cabinet
Government’s silence was unwillingly dented by Economy Minister Silvio Schembri. During a press conference aimed at giving information about measures taken by his ministry to counter the economic fallout of coronavirus Schembri was faced by a question he could not avoid answering. Schembri did not deny Gafa’s story. He simply said, in a classic evasive technique, that push backs were never discussed during a Cabinet meeting.