The integrity of the investigation into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia has been put to question by MEPs on an urgent fact-finding mission in Malta.
The delegation, which ended a series of meetings in Malta on Wednesday, said the situation was being made worse by the prime minister's decision to stay in office until mid-January despite calls for him to go because of the alleged involvement of people in his office.
Addressing journalists at the end of their two-day visit, the Euro-parliamentarians, led by Dutch MEP Sophie in’t Veld, expressed “serious concern” over what they heard and saw while in Malta.
“We have taken note of the suspension of parliament for a fairly long Christmas recess. It is the parliament to decide if there is a majority (of MPs backing Dr Muscat) but we would like to share our views.
“We have serious concerns about Dr Muscat staying in office and serious concerns about the integrity of the investigation. The next 40 days will be crucial and we do not want arisk or a perceived risk (to the investigation). There has to be absolute confidence in the office (of the prime minister) and while he is there, there isn’t,” Ms in’t Veld said.
While welcoming the “important progress” being made in the investigation into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Ms in’t Veld said that the delegation still had concerns on the integrity of the process.
“We still have concerns on the integrity of the process. We have concerns that other investigations clearly connected to the murder case have either not started or not being conducted very vigorously,” she said.
The MEPs said they were also worried about journalists being under threat and were also outraged to find out that Ms Caruana Galizia’s family was still being harassed.
Ms in’t Veld said many of the delegation’s concerns were not addressed in their meetings with the prime minister, the attorney general, the police commissioner, the Speaker as well as with journalists and Ms Caruana Galizia’s family,.
MEP Birgit Sippel from the S&D, which the Labour Party forms part of, said it was not important whether or not one believes what Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says he is doing.
“In such a situation you cannot continue as though nothing is happening. The situation is becoming toxic and change is needed, I think we can all agree on that,” the MEP said.
And asked by a journalist if the delegation agreed with the statement that Malta is a mafia state, Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola was quick to jump in: “We are not corrupt, we are not the mafia and what we definitely are not is Joseph Muscat.”