PN parliamentary group to convene urgently this evening

Updated 07:08 PM
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Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Partit Nazzjonalista’s parliamentary group will convene urgently this evening after some 20 MPs have demanded an urgent meeting in the wake of claims that Partit Nazzjonalista leader Adrian Delia has kept in touch with Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect via a WhatsApp chat last year. The MPs have urged the party’s secretary general, Francis Zammit Dimech, and the Whip of the Opposition, Robert Cutajar, to hold the meeting on Sunday evening.

Earlier on Sunday, Delia announced that he would call a meeting of his parliamentary group “to ensure the PN perseveres in its pursuit of truth and justice.”

Delia to summon PN parliamentary group this week as MPs demand urgent meeting

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia has pledged to call a meeting of his parliamentary group this week after many PN MPs called for an urgent meeting in the wake of claims that he kept in touch with Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech via a WhatsApp chat last year.

In a statement to the press, Delia announced that he would call the meeting

Claims of an ongoing online chat with Fenech – after it was revealed that Fenech owned Emirati company 17 Black, which emails suggested would channel funds into offshore structures owned by Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri – were made by the Sunday Times of Malta.

Newsbook.com.mt is informed that the MPs appear to have acted spontaneously and not in a coordinated manner – with some contacting party whip Robert Cutajar, others secretary-general Francis Zammit Dimech and others still contacting both. The exact number of MPs has not been confirmed, but it exceeds a third of the total – the quota required to call for an urgent parliamentary group meeting under party rules. The Times is reporting that 20 of the PN’s 28 MPs have requested the meeting.

When contacted, Zammit Dimech and Cutajar refused to comment, with Cutajar stating that as party whip, he did not comment on matters related to parliamentary group meetings.

Delia argues chats were fabricated

The Times’ report states that the chats were always initiated by Fenech, but on one occasion, Delia appeared to accept Fenech’s invitation for a casual meal. The PN leader was reported as stating that he would ask Pierre Portelli – who headed the party media at the time – to organise the meal, although it could not confirm whether this event ever took place.

The chats took place in early 2019, after Fenech was revealed to be the owner of 17 Black – which leaked emails mentioned as a source of funds for secretive offshore structures set up by Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri.

Delia, however, insisted that the WhatsApp chat was a fabrication in an interview which aired on the party’s radio station NET FM on Sunday morning. He insisted that people in government were seeking to intimidate him in a bid to thwart his efforts to keep them in check.

The interview was scheduled to start on 11:15am, but was delayed by some 20 minutes while Delia’s response to the claim was being awaited.

Why weren’t other chats published, Delia asks

In his press statement, Delia questioned why the Sunday Times of Malta only published “alleged” chats between Fenech and himself if it had access to Fenech’s mobile.

 “How about publishing thousands of exchanges that there must be between Fenech and the culprits in the numerous cases of corruption and the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia that they are implied (sic) in,” he asked.

Noting that the Fenech was reported to have pledged his support in the alleged chats, he noted that as leader of Malta’s second-largest political party, he received thousands of messages each weeks from all types of people pledging support, asking for meetings and giving ideas.

“That does not make me an acquaintance or friend of theirs,” he said.

Delia also noted that while he had to address the claims made, Mizzi and Schembri were “enjoying the summer holdiays despite being caught red handed having set up a venture to generate €5,000 daily each from the proceeds of corrupt deals.”

 “And a former Prime Minister under whom all this heinous crime and corruption happened continues to escape justice,” he added.

Delia under increased scrutiny for alleged links to Fenech

Delia has repeatedly denied any close ties to Fenech, or that the former Tumas Group head ever influenced his decisions, but these alleged ties have come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks.

Last month, during the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, middleman Melvin Theuma claimed that Fenech had offered Delia €50,000 in a bid to stop the re-election of MEP David Casa, who had been piling pressure on Emirati authorities over 17 Black through the European Parliament. Theuma’s testimony confirmed a claim made by David Thake in a debate on Xarabank on June 2019, before Thake became a PN MP in a casual election.

In Court, Schembri also claimed that Portelli would meet Fenech once a month to collect a €20,000 donation.

An inquiry led by Magistrate Doreen Clarke is looking into these claims. Portelli and Delia have both issued denials via an affidavit.