Prime Minister Robert Abela has once again called on the courts to be 'on the side of society' and to review sentencing policies without being bound to decades old decisions.

Speaking in Birkirkara on Sunday he accused the opposition of a conflict of interest, saying he was being criticised for calling for harsher court sentences by the same people who worked as lawyers and every morning went to court to plead for shorter sentences for their clients.   

Abela originally called for a review of sentencing policies and tougher punishments last week in the wake of the murder of a Turkish woman in Gzira and the unprovoked attack on a group of four boys by a gang of youths in Valletta.  

“Our courts need to send a clear message that they are in favour of society, and are in favour of maintaining law and order in our country,” he said. 

He said that over the past few days he met a magistrate who told him that whenever a tough punishment was handed down, the sentence was inevitably watered down on appeal, with the appeals court citing caselaw.

The courts, Abela said, should no longer be anchored by decisions which went back decades.  

He said that like all parents, he had been worried about the recent cases, but the police had done well to investigate and arraign the suspects.

“You have to be cold-blooded as a parent to not worry about what happened in Valletta, but after a few hours I breathed a sigh of relief when the authorities took the alleged aggressors to court,” he said. 

He was also pleased that the courts understood that denying bail to the accused was a way to show it was in favour of society, he said. 

"In his speech the prime minister repeatedly accused the PN of being stuck in the past and opposing any reforms. 

Encouragement by EU Commission president

The government, he said, remained focussed on helping the people in all their difficulties and he was particularly encouraged last week by a statement by EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen who had praised Malta and urged it to 'carry on' in its work which included growing the economy, improving the environment and strengthening the justice and rule of law sectors. 

As a result the EU had released an initial tranche of €50 million for Malta under the recovery programme.

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