Minister Falzon says he never clashed with Muscat or Schembri

The public inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia continued this afternoon. Minister Michael Falzon gave his testimony.

The board of inquiry is chaired by Judge Emeritus Michael Mallia and composed of Chief Justice Emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino and Madame Justice Abigail Lofaro.

15:16 That is it for today. Thank you for following us.
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15:16 The next sitting will be held on Wednesday. Inspector Kurt Zahra is expected to testify.
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15:15 Minister Falzon's testimony ends here.
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15:15 Falzon says he does not deem it right to now comment on the matter.
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15:14 Madame Justice Lofare asks Falzon if he wishes he had advised Muscat to remove Mizzi and Schembri.
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15:13 Madame Justice Lofaro tells the witness not to compare his case – the one in relation to Gaffarena, with those of Konrad Mizzi because it is not a fair comparison.
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15:11 Asked about the vote of confidence in Konrad Mizzi in November 2019, Minister Falzon says " It was not a free vote – it was a decision instructed by the party."
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15:10 Dr Comodini Cachia asks Minister Falzon if he wishes to testify behind closed doors.

Falzon says he can continue testifying with the media present.
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15:09 He says there wasn't much discussion as everyone was shocked.
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15:09 Dr Comodini Cachia asks if the Parliamentary Group had discussed Daphne's murder, the day after her assassination.
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15:08 Falzon says he was not aware of this contract when he was Minister. He continues saying that he knew about it from the media.
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15:07 Questions are now revolving on the phantom job to pardoned middleman in Daphne's murder, Melvin Theuma.
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15:05 Falzon says he was aware that an election in 2017 was to take place when the then PM had announced it.
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15:04 Minister Falzon reiterates that there wasn't a discussion on 17 Black.
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15:03 Dr Comodini Cachia is asking if he remembers when the issue on the Electrogas bank guarantee was raised by the media.
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15:01 "When Electrogas was discussed, when Panama Papers were published, I was not part of the cabinet. I did not give my opinion," said Falzon.
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14:59 Lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia is now asking questions.
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14:58 He became aware of Fenech's and Keith Schembri's friendship through the media.
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14:57 He also says that when the discussion process concerning land reclamation was on, there were 4 businesses which carried out a presentation. He was present then, he knew about him but says he did not know him.
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14:56 Falzon says he did not know Fenech and he never saw him at Castille.
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14:55 The board is asking questions concerning Yorgen Fenech.
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14:54 The project concerning windfarms in Montenegro were never discussed at cabinet level, said Falzon.
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14:53 Falzon says that during his time – as part of the cabinet under PM Muscat- projects concerning land reclamation were presented.
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14:52 The board asks Falzon on ow projects such as those of Vitals and Electrogas were presented, he says that at the time he was not part of the cabinet.
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14:51 Minister Michael Falzon says he was never part of the so-called kitchen cabinet.
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14:50 Madame Justice Lofaro notes how this has become evident during the public inquiry.
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14:49 Chief Justice Emeritus, Said Pullicino noted how the cabinet at the time was absent and described the situation as "impressive"
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14:48 Falzon says that he was not involved in the discussion on how the government should act on the matter.
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14:47 Falzon says that the news that Daphne was assassinated was a shock.
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14:42 He says the allegations about 17 Black were never discussed during cabinet meetings.
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14:41 17 Black:

Madame Justice Lofaro asks if he felt uncomfortable with the allegations.

Falzon replies yes, he felt a bit uncomfortable. He added that he was never asked to give his opinion on the matter.

"We would have been better without that situation" – Minister Falzon
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14:39 Falzon confirms he again formed part of the cabinet after the 2017 election.
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14:37 When asked if Muscat had consulted him when the Panama Papers were issued, and if he asked him what were his position regarding Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri, Falzon replied that at the time he was not part of the Cabinet.
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14:35 He says that under the helm of Robert Abela, the leadership/administration has changed as everyone's has his own ways.
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14:34 Minister Falzon answers but is evasive. He said he was never pressured by Schembri.
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14:34 The board asks if Schembri had too much power.
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14:33 "Muscat and Schembri never forced me to do something that goes against my will" – Falzon
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14:33 He says he never had clashed with Joseph Muscat or Keith Schembri.
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14:32 The board is asking questions regarding his connections/links to Gaffarena.
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14:31 "Do you exclude that your resignation was instigated by someone in particular?" – asks the board

Falzon says that it was something he decided and that he shouldered the consequences.
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14:30 Falzon says that when he was a Parliamentary Secretary within the Office of the Prime Minister, he used to take the decisions.
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14:29 The inquiry board is asking Minister Falzon about connections to businessmen.

He replies that he knows many of them as he spent years working at Bank of Valletta. His role was the vetting of projects.
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14:27 Minister Michael Falzon took the witness stand.
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14:27 We are live from courtroom 20.
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14:27 Good afternoon and welcome to this live blog.
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