Updated with Repubblika statement below.

Joseph Muscat has already paid a price by resigning as prime minister, his successor Robert Abela said on Saturday. 

Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri as well as partners from former government consultants Nexia BT were arrested on Monday in connection with a money-laundering investigation. 

Replying to questions, Abela criticised Times of Malta for focusing on Muscat rather than the subject of the press conference, which was the opening of additional lanes as part of the Central Link road project.

Muscat led Malta as prime minister between 2013 and early 2020, when he resigned that post but kept his seat in parliament.  

Abela said Muscat does not form part of the government executive, and had been elected into parliament by voters. 

“Joseph Muscat paid the price. He was prime minister of this country, and in November, the decision was taken for him to step down on January 13”. 

Muscat announced his resignation soon after Schembri was arrested for the first time in November 2019 in connection with Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder. He was later released without charge.  

The former prime minister spent years protecting Schembri, former Energy and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Nexia BT accountants who set up their Panama companies. 

Abela attacks Grech on quarantine

Abela said he hoped Times of Malta would question just as assiduously how one of the contenders in the PN leadership election appeared to have his own quarantine laws. 

Several ministers have already taken aim at leadership hopeful Bernard Grech, who resumed campaigning after spending several days in self-imposed quarantine due to his wife testing positive to COVID-19. 

Grech said in a statement on Saturday that he was never placed under mandatory quarantine by the health authorities and noted that his wife, who has tested positive for the virus, had self-isolated from September 17 after discovering she had been in contact with a known case. 

Prime minister's remarks were disgusting - Repubblika

In a statement, the rule of law group Repubblika said it was disgusted by Robert Abela's remarks about Joseph Muscat.

Anyone who committed a shortcoming, even if he served as prime minister, should be investigated and held to account it said. That was how one paid for his actions, not by resigning and ending up being paid an undisclosed sum by the government. 

Furthermore, in a democracy, serving in the government was a service, not a privilege. Therefore it could not understand how Abela declared that Muscat had paid for his actions by resigning. 

It urged Abela to do his duty and not to continue to defend Muscat.  

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