One of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sons was transferred out of a diplomatic posting on the explicit order of a minister with no reason given, an inquiry heard on Wednesday.

Andrew Caruana Galizia was just one year into a three-year posting in New Delhi, India when he was told he was being recalled to Malta in June 2017.

Fiona Formosa, who served as the ministry’s permanent secretary at the time, testified on Wednesday that the order to recall the junior diplomat came from Carmelo Abela.

Formosa said Abela – who had just been appointed Foreign Affairs Minister following Labour’s electoral victory – had not given a reason for the decision and that she had not sought one.

“I don’t recall any discussion, just that he was to come back within two weeks,” she said.

Abela had said under oath last week that he "could not remember" whether there had been any political pressure from the Office of the Prime Minister to recall the junior diplomat and said the recall had nothing to do with his mother, Daphne Caruana Galizia's journalism.

Abela currently serves as a minister within the Office of the Prime Minister. 

Formosa was testifying as part of an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the murder of Caruana Galizia in a car bomb on 16 October 2017.

She confirmed under questioning that the recall order was pushed through despite a written objection filed by Malta’s High Commissioner to India at the time, Stephen Borg.

Caruana Galizia was Borg’s sole aide at the New Delhi embassy and was not replaced for four months following his rapid recall to Malta, Formosa confirmed under questioning.

Caruana Galizia had wanted to remain in the posting, she recalled. He is now on unpaid leave.

'Minister should resign'

Jason Azzopardi, who serves as the Caruana Galizia family's legal counsel and is also an Opposition MP, told parliament later on Wednesday that the revelations provided by Formosa's testimony were grounds for resignation.

Abela had "either acted on his own initiative or else was instructed to remove Caruana Galizia, possibly by Joseph Muscat or Keith Schembri,” Azzopardi said.

Earlier during the inquiry session, inspector Kurt Zahra testified

Zahra said that the Caruana Galizia murder investigation remained ongoing and that a task force analysing the huge quantities of data linked to the case had spun at least 11 separate criminal investigations out of the probe. 

The inquiry continues on Friday, October 16, when Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis is expected to testify. 

Reacting to Azzopardi’s claims, Parliamentary Secretary Alex Muscat denied that the transfer had been politically motivated. He said Caruana Galizia had been promoted to first secretary under a Labour government in 2014.

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