Is Muscat’s continued stay influencing the murder investigation?

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat continued stay in office until a new Partit Laburista leader is elected and therefore appointed Prime Minister in his stead has raised concerns in some quarters about the integrity of the murder investigation.

Sources told that that one reason for concern is the fact that of the many powers a prime minister has, includes the power to authorize a warrant which would permit phone tapping by the Security Service. Under local law, phone tapping is only permitted if sanctioned either by the relevant minister or the prime minister.

Security Service Act

The Malta Security Service is established through the Security Services Act, an entity which is separate from the police and under the authority of the Minister designated by the Prime Minister as being responsible for the Security Service. In this case, the Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia has the portfolio for national security. The Security Service is tasked to protect national security, in particular against organised crime among other fields.

The issuing of warrants for interception with communications may only be issued by the Minister. The Prime Minister gets to appoint the Commissioner for Security Service. The person is one who either has held the post of a judge or who has held the post of Attorney General. The Commissioner is tasked to keep under review the exercise of the Minister’s powers in relation to the issuance of warrants.

An annual report of the Security Service is meant to be presented to the Prime Minister and the Minister responsible for it. While the Commissioner has to present an annual report to the Prime Minister which is presented to the security committee.

MEPs raise concern

Serious concerns about the murder investigation and Muscat’s insistence on remaining in office were raised by the fact-finding mission to Malta in November. Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld had told the press that the delegation had serious concerns about the integrity of the investigation.

The fact-finding mission had said then that while important progress had been made by the investigators no one was comfortable with Muscat remaining in a position to wield power or influence over it.

Sources speaking to have raised concerns about Muscat’s continued stay in office and the possibility, even if just perceived,  of using his power to interfere with the murder investigation.  Muscat has repeatedly stated that he does not interfere with the police investigations.

The MEP delegation had raised a similar concern, highlighting that whether it was real or perceived, the investigation ran a risk with Muscat’s stay.

His last days in office

Outgoing Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced that he will step down in January after a new Partit Laburista leader is elected, back in December following the arraignment of Yorgen Fenech – Dubai-based 17 Black owner and Electrogas director. Fenech now faces accusations of being an accomplice in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Muscat had told the press that he would only keep himself busy with “day-to-day” administration. This included the appointment of the first state advocate as well as a couple of then unannounced trips.

A trip to the Vatican turned into a private audience with Pope Francis following outrage at the meeting. He then went to Bethlehem. Followed by a family ‘holiday’ in Dubai where they spent at least 15 hours of 70-hour ‘holiday’ in transit. Upon his return, Muscat and his family jetted off to London.

Lovin Malta revealed that Muscat held a meeting with international lawyer Saad Djebbar at the Corinthia London hotel lobby on Thursday.