Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar was taken off Malta’s delegation to the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe on Monday, sparing her having to answer breach of conduct accusations before the council's rules committee next month.

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne announced in parliament that Cutajar is being replaced by Energy Minister Miriam Dalli.

The Opposition did not say a word when Fearne moved the motion, but MP Jason Azzopardi reacted immediately after in a Facebook post, describing Cutajar as a 'national embarrassment'.

He said she had no way to avoid being found guilty of breaching parliamentary ethics for having been in touch with Yorgen Fenech.

Cutajar is being investigated over a 2019 speech in which she shot down a colleague’s report into the Daphne Caruana Galizia case and the rule of law in Malta.

More than 30 members of the Council of Europe assembly endorsed the request for an investigation filed by Dutch MP Peter Omtzigt, triggering a probe by the assembly’s  Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs. 

Cutajar is alleged to have acted as a property broker on a promise of sale agreement for murder suspect Yorgen Fenech to buy an Mdina house for €3.1 million in May 2019. Yorgen is awaiting trial for complicity in the murder of Caruana Galizia. 

After the assembly's warning, Cutajar had defiantly written:  "I will not be intimidated. I will continue to defend Malta's name."

Should the committee have found Cutajar guilty of breaching the rules, it could have sanctioned her by temporarily banning her from speaking at the assembly, signing resolutions or motions, asking questions, acting as a rapporteur or serving on committees. he could also have been temporarily or permanently suspended as an assembly member altogether.

Cutajar resigned as parliamentary secretary in February, pending the outcome of an investigation by the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life into her ethical conduct with Yorgen Fenech. Her resignation was made permanent after the investigation report was issued

Repubblika: Cutajar being protected rather than investigated

In a reaction, the NGO Repubblika said the prime minister was now assuming responsibility for Rosianne Cutajar's unethical behaviour. He had a duty to counter such behaviour rather than try to hinder investigations. 

The fact that Cutajar had been substituted on the Maltese parliamentary delegation showed up Malta as a country that could not be trusted and where those involved in wrong behaviour were protected rather than held to account.


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