Prime Minister Robert Abela on Sunday said “pertinent” questions about whether action should be taken against former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri should be directed to Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà. 

Schembri has repeatedly been linked to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia as well as a raft of financial crimes during his time in government. 

“The Prime Minister is not an investigator and a prosecutor in this country. God forbid that happens”, Abela said when asked about Schembri. 

Abela reiterated during an interview ONE TV that he did not believe Schembri lost his mobile phone shortly before his arrest and questioning in connection with the murder last November. 

Murder suspect Yorgen Fenech has claimed Schembri is the one who masterminded the October 2017 car bombing. 

Abela said he had made his position about Schembri clear during a November 2019 cabinet meeting during which a presidential pardon for Fenech was discussed.

On the political fate of former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Abela insisted he would not shy away from taking tough decisions. 

He, however, defended Muscat, saying he had done a lot of good for the country over the past seven years. 

Abela said the fact Muscat was questioned by the police did not necessarily mean he was implicated in criminal wrongdoing

The prime minister said he was careful not to make any pacts or agreements with anyone during the Labour leadership race, so he would not be hindered in taking difficult decisions further down the line. 

He said the government would not interfere in the courts, the police or FIAU. 
“Justice will take place without discrimination, for everyone”, he said. 

‘Election date not conditioned by PN leadership race’ 

Abela refused to be pinned down about whether plans for an early election are in the pipeline. 

The prime minister said the election date would not be conditioned by the outcome of the PN leadership race. 

He did not reply directly when asked if the government would see out the current legislature. 

Abela said a “worrying” picture was emerging about the tax problems both Adrian Delia and fellow leadership contestant Bernard Grech faced.

He questioned how someone who could not get his own financial affairs in order could lead a country of half a million people. 

Abela said it was “dangerous” to have a person who hoped to become prime minister one day see politics as the solution to his financial problems. 

“It boils down to a lack of authenticity. They are the opposite of what they project. With me, you know where you stand”, Abela said of the PN leadership contestants. 

Fears of economic crash dismissed

Abela dismissed concerns that Malta’s economy could crash because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He said the pandemic had shown how resilient the economy truly was. 

Contrary to other countries, unemployment rates were falling, he said. 

Abela said unemployment and inflation rates were actually lower during the pandemic than in 2013, during the tenure of the last PN government.

On migration, Abela said migrant arrivals in August, which is usually a peak month, were lower than in January and February when Malta faced 1,000 arrivals. 

He said the government was focusing on tackling the problem with “all hands on deck”. 

Abela placed the responsibility of the 27 migrants stranded for almost a month aboard the Maersk on the Danish government, as the oil tanker flies under the Danish flag. 

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