Owen Bonnici has been handed Rosianne Cutajar's portfolio, after the Labour MP's relegation to the backbench was confirmed by Prime Minister Robert Abela. 

Bonnici's ministerial portfolio has been further bolstered by the inclusion of the equality portfolio, which has been transferred to him from Edward Zammit Lewis. 

He will now be responsible for civil rights, equality and reforms, as well as research, innovation and the coordination of post-COVID strategy. 

His ministry will now be called the Ministry for Equality, Research and Innovation, while that led by Zammit Lewis will focus on Justice and Governance. 

The government assured it will continue prioritising reforms in civil and equality sectors. 

Cutajar had resigned from her position as parliamentary secretary for equality and reforms in February pending the outcome of an investigation into her alleged property dealings involving Yorgen Fenech.

That report, which was concluded last week, recommended that Cutajar be investigated by tax authorities after it concluded that Cutajar had most likely pocketed a brokerage fee from a multi-million property sale. 

The report also found that Cutajar had accepted a €9,000 "birthday present" from Fenech, a business mogul who is now charged with complicity in Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder. 

On Monday, Prime Minister Robert Abela said that Cutajar would not be returning to cabinet, confirming her resignation.

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