Rule of law NGO Repubblika has expressed its concern about “friendship and unacceptable favors” between politicians and businessmen that used gifts and privileges “to get close to decision-makers”.
In a statement the NGO reacted to the news which hit the headlines on Thursday morning after Lovin Malta revealed that disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat and Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis travelled to France and holidayed at a hotel owned by murder suspect Yorgen Fenech.
Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis told Lovin Malta that the trip happened in 2014 while the sources told the online portal that it happened in 2017. Times of Malta reported that it happened in 2017 quoting its sources. Lovin Malta reported that Muscat could not remember when the trip took place.
Repubblika noted that the information is being drip-fed to the public, adding that it has emerged that there is a culture where such gifts and favors are a regular thing and are accepted, adding that for the NGO these were unacceptable.
The NGO said that it was more concerned by the attitude adopted by the politicians in particular those who are beholden to the “corrupt” and continue to defend this culture by justifying the acceptance of such gifts.
“The friendship between Muscat and Fenech was the context in which the biggest act of corruption – the Electrogas power station – took place. That was followed by the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia which, according to evidence, appeared to have been committed to hide that corruption,” Repubblika said.
The NGO noted that Fenech is keeping tabs on the favours or gifts which his family has given out to individuals in an attempt to blackmail and avoid justice.
Referring to Jason Azzopardi free stay in a hotel in Tel Aviv, the NGO said that Azzopardi could have avoided exposing himself to an attempt of blackmail. The NGO noted that despite the free hotel stay, Azzopardi was not blackmailed and did not keep silent. However, they added that other politicians chose to remain silent on the Electrogas scandal and Caruana Galizia’s assassination.
The NGO also praised journalist Ivan Martin from the Times of Malta who had refused to be bribed.