Alfred Sant said he “still doubts” statements made by Konrad Mizzi about his controversial secret accounts, but rubbished the international spotlight on corruption in Malta.
The MEP and former prime minister was questioned almost two years after he had said that Dr Mizzi should have resigned in the wake of the Panama Papers exposé.
Asked on Times Talk whether he stood by his words, Dr Sant replied: “That was my political judgement. The political judgement of the government was different – it felt he should be demoted and then subjected to the election processes.”
When pushed to reply whether it is right for a parliamentarian like Dr Mizzi to be absolved and re-appointed simply because his party wins by a popular vote, he replied:
“If the people accepted his statements – I myself still doubt his statements –that's a political process... There are still ongoing processes where it comes to criminal investigations.”
He would not say whether he would have re-appointed Dr Mizzi as a minister if he were prime minister saying he did not have all the facts in hand.
Dr Sant, who served as prime minister between 1996 and 1998 was in combative mood.
He accused organisations like Times of Malta of waking up to the issues of corruption because the Labour Party was in power when it had ignored ‘scandals’ in the past like the bus-ticketing system, Chambray and Mater Dei hospital.
He accused Socialist MEP Ana Gomes, a vocal critic of the Maltese government, of loving the limelight and specialising in stunts
He described a European Parliament debate and report about Malta’s rule of law as a sham.
“You can't have political electors who decide beforehand what they want to say, publicise it, and then come here as judge, jury and executioner.”
He accused Socialist MEP Ana Gomes, a vocal critic of the Maltese government, of “loving the limelight” and specialising in “stunts”. Dr Sant said he found it unacceptable for fellow MEPs to pontificate to the Maltese about rule of law when corruption was a Europe-wide problem.
He also rejected suggestions that corruption was dominating the narrative against his government.
“It's the narrative that the right-wing in Malta want to fan because they’re not in power.”
He would not be drawn into commenting whether, as a Socialist, he agreed with putting three public hospitals under private control but he said he has always been sceptical about private-public partnerships.
The former prime minister said he was “totally shocked” when he heard about the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. He admitted her murder will continue to create problems of perception for the administration until the real perpetrators are caught.
Asked whether he feels that those who commissioned the murder will ever be caught, he replied: “Well, the record in Malta is not so good”.
While not committing to a potential second term in the European Parliament, Dr Sant said being an MEP had not changed his view about the EU. Dr Sant had objected to Malta’s membership of the bloc.