A Council of Europe rapporteur has voiced concern about the concentration of power in the Maltese prime minister's hands amid warning of "many issues" regarding rule of law.

The way senior officials in the public administration are appointed suggests a remarkable concentration of power and influence in the hands of the prime minister, Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt (Christian Democratic Appeal) said.

Mr Omtzigt was appointed by the legal affairs committee of the Council of Europe as rapporteur on the investigation into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the rule of law in Malta.

In an introductory memorandum, Mr Omtzigt said a preliminary overview of the case raised "many issues concerning the rule of law in Malta, the progress made in investigating the murder, and the attitude and behaviour of certain senior public officials".

Dutch MEP Pieter OmtzigtDutch MEP Pieter Omtzigt

He also observed that "a number of serious, high-profile cases in recent years seem not to have been properly investigated".

“At the same time, the authorities have taken rapid, firm action against whistleblowers who revealed essential information, or failed to provide them with protection,” Mr Omtzigt said.

He said that he would proceed with his report on the basis of three assumptions. Firstly, that the murder of Ms Caruana Galizia was premeditated and planned well in advance; secondly, that the persons ultimately responsible for Caruana Galizia’s death "were motivated by her investigative work" and finally, that the three arrested suspects were most likely acting under instructions.

The rapporteur said he intended to organise a hearing to "hear first-hand from experts in different fields" about the investigation and the murder, as well as to visit Malta to speak to the authorities and other relevant interlocutors.

He also asked for the legal affairs’ committee’s agreement that he receives information from sources who provide it on condition of anonymity. 

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