Updated 12.40pm - Added Miriam Dalli statement
The Nationalist Party has urged the police commissioner to investigate and prosecute a man who wrote on Facebook that MEP Roberta Metsola deserved to be "burned alive."
Dr Metsola and the PN's two other MEPs, David Casa and Francis Zammit Dimech, have faced harsh criticism over the past week from Labour Party supporters, who have accused them of being traitors for having urged the EU to condemn Malta.
That criticism spilled over into hate speech on at least one occasion, with a man writing on Facebook: "All of you, especially you [Metsola], you're a national traitor. It's not a condemnation you deserve, but to be burnt alive, you dung."
Dr Metsola replied to the attack on Twitter, saying "Labour trolls now want to burn me alive. They say so with total impunity, in public, using their real names, knowing they'll get a pat on the back."
In a brief statement in which it urged the police to intervene, the PN said it unreservedly condemned the hate speech and expressed solidarity with its MEP.
Malta's criminal code provides for harsher sentences when offences are found to be motivated by hate speech.
'Hypocrisy is clear' - MEP Dalli
Meanwhile, a war of words between Dr Metsola and rival MEP Miriam Dalli continued this morning, with the S&D's Dr Dalli saying Dr Metsola's "spin" could not hide the fact that she had voted against sending an MEP delegation to investigate the rule of law in Hungary.
Dr Dalli has accused Dr Metsola of hypocrisy, saying that while the PN MEP was doing her utmost to get fellow MEPs worked up about Malta's rule of law, she was far less keen to see MEPs investigate Hungary, where an EPP government is in power.
Dr Metsola has dismissed the charge as "rubbish" and said Labour MEPs were tying themselves into knots trying to obfuscate the truth.
But in a statement this morning, Dr Dalli noted that Dr Metsola had voted against sending an MEP delegation to investigate Hungary's rule of law issues just 13 days ago.
The November 6 vote saw 30 MEPs vote against sending a delegation, with 21 voting in favour.
The vote came following a report published last May in which MEPs found that the situation in Hungary had led to a "serious deterioration in the rule of law".
"This is just another case of two weights and two measures. Talk is cheap. Actions – or in this case, votes – speak louder than words," Dr Dalli said.