Watch: Delia lambasts Abela for dictatorial behaviour

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Opposition Leader and Partit Nazzjonalista Leader Adrian Delia lambasted Prime Minister Robert Abela for his dictatorial behaviour when the latter delivered a press conference on Friday evening over the criminal complaints which were filed on the alleged intentional sabotage of a rubber dingy carrying asylum seekers.

The government and the Armed Forces of Malta, to this day have failed to deny the allegations leveled against them.

The incident hit international headlines. An official from P52 allegedly boarded a migrant vessel roughly 20 miles southwest and damaged the engine before leaving the boat to drift, a migrant said in a mayday call to migrant hotline Alarm Phone. The recording of the call was later shared with The New York Times.

The group was later rescued after Malta had declared its ports unsafe and banned migrant landings amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The government since then has not commented on the accusations leveled at the Armed Forces of Malta. It however warned that it could no longer guarantee the rescue of migrants at sea.

Following the incident, Repubblika filed two criminal complaints – one against the Prime Minister and Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi and a second one against the crew of P52.

Delivering the right of reply on TVM, Delia said that during the press conference on Friday, Abela lied seven times when he claimed that Partit Nazzjonalista and the Opposition have leveled accusations of attempted murder against him and the AFM officials. The claims were made by one of the migrants who was eventually rescued and which have been recorded by Alarm Phone.

Further, Delia pointed out that Abela who is a lawyer by profession himself, knows that Azzopardi was acting in his professional capacity acting as a lawyer on behalf of his clients in this case, Repubblika. However, on Friday, Abela claimed that Azzopardi had filed them on behalf of the Opposition, which was not the case.

The Opposition Leader underlined that it was unacceptable to attack a lawyer acting on behalf of their clients in the professional capacity. He stressed that there were a number of MPs who practiced the legal profession.

Delia remarked that Abela knows that the police would act independently on a criminal complaint, adding that ‘in a democratic society when one is under investigation they do no go on TV seeking attention’.

The Opposition Leader stated that to date the Prime Minister has failed to flatly deny the serious accusations leveled at the administration. ‘Such behaviour warrants an investigation. However, Abela only spoke out 24 hours later because he was under investigation,’ Delia said.

Delia made it clear that the allegations on which the criminal complaint was filed by Repubblika did not originate from the Opposition.

Partit Nazzjonalista’s position on the right to life is clear, Delia reiterated saying that this principle was a core value of the party and that there was no compromising on this.

“All those who qualify for asylum should be returned to their country. We should work on achieving a European-wide burden sharing mechanism and take concrete measures against traffickers,” Delia said.

Delia also referred to Abela’s initial claims that the press conference would be on the coronavirus. Whilst thanking the healthcare workers for their work, Delia pointed out that hundreds of healthcare workers had written to the Prime Minister urging him to save the lives at sea.

“We will not allow the government to split the Opposition,” Delia said.