Maltese MEP David Casa discussed recent developments in Malta concerning former chief of staff Keith Schembri and the public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder with EU Commission vice-president Vera Jourová, he said in a statement on Wednesday. 

Casa said the freezing of Schembri's assets and “political interference by the prime minister” in the Caruana Galizia inquiry were among the topics of discussion during the meeting.

He said that he told Jourová that Malta’s institutions have been hijacked by a "criminal cabal intent on protecting corrupt politicians". 

“The setting up of the inquiry into the assassination of Caruana Galizia was opposed at every turn by the Maltese government. It must now be allowed to continue its work in tranquillity, free from any political interference. The board should be able to continue their work for as long as they deem it necessary.”

Prime Minister Robert Abela recently granted the inquiry a one-time deadline extension to December 15. This has been objected to by the family and civil society, among others, who say the inquiry must run until it has satisfied its remit. 

Casa and Jourová also discussed developments in a police investigation into Keith Schembri.

“The freezing of assets should have happened four and a half years ago, in April 2016, when the Panama Papers were revealed. If the authorities had done their job back then, Daphne would still be alive today,” Casa said.  

Casa also reiterated his call for additional funding for media houses that have been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. “At a time when we need the free press more than ever, they are under most strain”, he said.

Casa and Jourová also discussed the Commission’s long-awaited plans to address abusive SLAPP practices.

He welcomed the Commission’s commitment to tackle this issue and gave the vice-president assurance of European Parliament support for legislation that will put an end to these practices.

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