Joseph Muscat and other officials who face criminal charges in court over the hospitals' inquiry are innocent until proven guilty and there is no reason why they should be kicked out of their positions, Robert Abela said on Monday.

The Vitals magisterial inquiry is riddled with unjust accusations, said the prime minister, who insisted, however, he had not seen the inquiry which sparked a political earthquake.

In a press conference shortly after it was confirmed that criminal charges were filed against former prime minister Joseph Muscat and almost 20 other individuals and companies, Abela stopped short of saying the inquiry does not hold water because it was unfair on these people.

Robert Abela fielding Times of Malta questions on Monday. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Charges were recommended against people who were not allowed to defend themselves, while others did not even know they were the subject of the investigation. Others, it seems, will be charged just for serving under Labour, Abela claimed. 

And court experts were paid too much in “direct orders”, he added.

During a 90-minute tense press conference, Abela again unleashed attacks against the "establishment".

Voters will make up their minds about the way the inquiry was carried out once they have seen it, he said. But they should ask why things were done that way and why the magistrate decided to close the investigation and send it to the Attorney General on the day when nominations for MEP candidates opened.

Then, they should send out a message through their vote in the June elections. Until then, everyone should remain calm, not fall for provocation and observe and analyse what happened.

Muscat is suspected of having committed crimes in connection with the deal to privatise three state hospitals. Minister Chris Fearne and Central Bank governor and former minister Edward Scicluna are also expected to face charges.

But Abela said he sees no reason why he should ask them to resign their posts – nor does he think he should kick Muscat out of the party. He first wants to see the inquiry and analyse whether their prosecution is justified before deciding on whether to sack them.

“For me, Fearne was a shoulder to rely on during the pandemic and together we braved great health and financial challenges. He was always loyal to the government and the people and he did his duty with utmost correctness,” Abela said.

The same goes for Edward Scicluna, he added.

Abela also said he has no intention of asking Muscat to leave the party or sack him, insisting he is still innocent and the courts are yet to determine whether he ever did anything wrong and whether any of his rights were breached.

Abela also said he expects legal challenges to the inquiry and the way it was carried out, and shot down suggestions that Muscat has had €30m worth of assets frozen.

Abela, again, continuously said all of this was the work of the “establishment” and, again, failed to specify to identify the people behind it, at one point even suggesting some of the reporters’ questions were influenced or fuelled by the so-called “establishment”.


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