The damage done to Malta’s reputation by those involved in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia is “almost irreparable”, deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne has said.
“Those who carried out the murder, those who commissioned it and anyone involved have done great harm – almost irreparable - to Malta’s reputation,” Mr Fearne said on Monday morning.
“Our priority is to solve this case and restore Malta’s reputation.”
The deputy prime minister declined to say whether he believed the government could continue to function while minister Konrad Mizzi and the prime minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri remained in office.
“This government has a strong electoral mandate and I believe it will carry that out. This does not mean that we will be discarding political responsibility,” he said.
“We will set our own agenda. We are not afraid of taking decisions. Nobody is greater than the country or the party. Nobody is above the law”.
Both Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri are linked to businessman Yorgen Fenech, who is currently under arrest in connection with the murder of Ms Caruana Galizia.
Mr Fearne was speaking to Times of Malta on the fringes of an event in Valletta marking the international day for the elimination of violence against women.
He made his comments shortly before Labour Party MPs were due to gather for an urgent meeting to discuss how best to handle fallout from the Caruana Galizia murder investigation.
Times of Malta on Monday reported that many Labour MPs want Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri out, and Education Minister Evarist Bartolo publicly called for them to be "pruned from the tree" in an early morning Facebook post which earned a reaction from Dr Mizzi.
Three men stand accused of having assassinated Ms Caruana Galizia in October 2017, with prominent businessman Mr Fenech under interrogation and a suspected middleman who claims to be able to link the killers to those who commissioned the crime under police protection.
Mr Fenech is tied to the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri and minister Konrad Mizzi through an offshore company he owns, 17 Black, which in 2018 was named as an intended source of funds for offshore firms owned by Mr Schembri and Dr Mizzi.