Tista' taqra bil- Malti.
Socialist German MEP Birgit Sippel said that there is pressure both on Partit Laburista and on the Socialists at the European Parliament. She explained that what they have seen is that what the EP fact finding mission has seen over these days the trust in Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has been ‘totally destroyed’ irrespective of what one believes that Muscat is doing or not.
Sippel was part of the delegation sent by the European Parliament in an urgent fact-finding mission. The delegation anticipated a visit they had scheduled for later.
She added that in such a situation one should take action. ‘One cannot simply continue as if nothing is happening,’ Sippel stated, underlining that it is her personal statement. Sippel acknowledged that the current situation is very difficult and that the action needs to be taken very fast.
Serious concerns; Maltese parliament has to take action
Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld highlighted that there are serious concerns about the murder investigation. She highlighted that there are concerns about Prime Minister Joseph Muscat staying in office up until January. Adding that while every one is innocent until proven guilty, the next forty days will be crucial to the murder investigation. On Sunday, Muscat said that he will resign once Partit Laburista elects a new Labour leader giving himself a 40-day lifeline until he steps down as prime minister and party leader.
In ‘t Veld added that the delegation does not want any real or perceived risk to the investigation, or that it is compromised in any way. Highlighting that the investigation requires that there is absolute confidence in the process.
She also highlighted concerns about other investigations into corruption, money laundering which are connected to the murder which have either not started or have not been conducted vigorously.
The delegation welcomed the progress made in the murder investigation over the past days. In ‘t Veld added that Europol’s participation in the investigation played a positive and important rule, adding that the team from Europol should get full access to the investigations related to the murder.
Intimidation of journalists and threats to freedom of assembly
The chair of the LIBE delegation observed that over the past few days there were threats to the safety and independence of journalists, as well as threats to the freedom of assembly.
‘Am very annoyed to see that the hate campaign, in particular towards the Caruana Galizia family has continued,’ in ‘t Veld stressed, adding that this has to stop immediately.
Muscat has to leave immediately – Metsola
Head of the Nationalist delegation and member of the LIBE committee Roberta Metsola said that Muscat has to leave immediately for the investigations to have any credibility. She added that what comes next is work on rule of law mechanism and ‘the bridging of the gap between the values we fought so hard for and tools we have to be able to protect them’.
‘Very much in shock’
Belgian MEP Assita Kanko said that what she had witnessed during the mission’s fact-finding mission left her very much in shock. Kanko said that growing up in Burkina Faso, she would have never imagined that such a murder would take place on European soil. ‘Killing a journalist is stabbing democracy,’ Kanko stated. She recalled the meeting with Caruana Galizia’s family saying that one could see the heartbreaking pain.
The chair of the delegation, Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld explained that in two weeks time a debate will be held at the European Parliament which would be possibly followed a resolution. She added that the delegation will be writing to the Von der Leyen Commission about the situation in Malta urging it to start a dialogue with the country within the rule of law framework. The delegation will also inform the European Council which is scheduled to meet in ten days, and for which Muscat would be in attendance. In ‘t Veld stressed that the European Council should take a position on the matter ahead of the scheduled meeting.
Fielding questions from the media, in ‘t Veld said that the new European Commission headed by Ursula von der Leyen seems to take a ‘keener’ interest in Malta. She observed that the previous European Commissioner completely ignored Malta. Commissioner Vera Jourova has made reference to the situation to Malta.
The chair added that they will press the European Commission to be bolder, quicker and stand by their words on the rule of law. ‘I hope this new Commission will be more assertive,’ in ‘t Veld said, highlighting that it needs to act immediately. The 40-day period is crucial for the investigation, warning that the investigation might be tampered with or evidence might disappear or potential guilty individuals manage to escape. ‘Would we be able to forgive ourselves,’ In ‘t Veld asked.
Video: Miguela Xuereb