Tista' taqra bil- Malti.
The civil society NGO Repubblika said in a statement on Sunday that it is ready to withdraw its criminal complaint against the P52 crew if an inquiry is ordered by the government and until the facts are established by the inquiry. But it sees no reason to consider withdrawing its complaint against the prime minister and the army chief for their decision not to save people in distress at sea. They said that in the case of the Prime Minister only a criminal investigation can help them reach justice.
Silence raised suspiscion
The NGO believes that “the silence of the government and the army command combined with today’s statement by the P52 crewmen raises the suspicion that there may indeed have been wrongdoing but investigating the crewmen alone would not uncover it.”
The morning the Sunday Times of Malta published a front page story in which the lawyer of the crew said that they are denying any wrongdoing. The NGO noted that this is the first ever denial of wrongdoing in this case and “although it is not in and of itself the closure of the matter, there are now at last two sides of this story.”
Repubblika says that “all people who acted within the law: crewmen of the P52 and all other members of our armed forces deserve to be cleared of any suspicion of wrongdoing.”
‘Government not Repubblika pressured P52 crew’
Repubblika said that it was not its actions that put undue pressure on the P52 crewmen. The NGO blames this “pressure” on what it describes as the “unbearable silence of the government and the army command that has refused to protect them (the P52 crewmen) and the entire army from the horrific implications of international media reports that Malta’s army sabotages boats carrying migrants.”
The statement of the NGO reminds readers that ten days after The New York Times, The Guardian and other major news organisations worldwide alleged that Malta’s army sabotaged a boat carrying migrants at sea, the government and the army continue to refuse to clearly deny this allegation.
Repubblika believes that under normal circumstances, an allegation like this would be immediately investigated, the truth established and either the allegation is disproven or appropriate action is taken.
A six day wait
The NGO waited for six days before filing a police report carrying the allegations in the international press for proper investigation. They accuse the government of misrepresenting their action as an act of treason and of betrayal to all members of the armed forces. This, for Repubblika, is a lie.
The NGO said that it is not too late for the government to do today what it should have done 10 days ago when this story first emerged: to order an inquiry to establish the facts. They believe that this inquiry should investigate not only what happened on the boat, but also what orders were given and what decisions were taken on shore. It appealed to the government to save the lives of people in distress at sea. It called on the government “to abandon its policy of refusing to save people at sea and to refuse to allow their rescuers to bring them to our shores.