The European Parliament is to send a delegation on an urgent fact-finding mission next week over the fall out of the investigation into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, MEPs have confirmed.
Times of Malta is informed that while the mission was initially planned to take place at a later stage, the leaders of the political groups this morning requested that the delegation is sent to the island next week.
The group of MEPs is expected to request meetings with the Prime Minister, the Opposition leader, the Police Commissioner, the Attorney General as well as Ms Caruana Galizia's family and journalists.
An urgent debate will also be held at the European Parliament in December.
While it is still being decided who will be leading the delegation, Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola has been confirmed as the representative from her party, the EPP.
Similar debates were held at the European Parliament in 2017 following the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. At the time, the debates were about the state of the country's rule of law.
Malta has again come under the spotlight as shocking revelations about the investigation into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia continued to emerge.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri resigned and was hauled in for questioning by the police. He remains under arrest. A few hours later, former Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi resigned while his colleague Chris Cardona “suspended himself” following fallout from the murder investigation.
In a reaction, Greens MEP Sven Giegold, a vocal critic of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his government, described the decision to send the mission as a "big victory".
Nationalist MEP David Casa also welcomed the news, saying the Prime Minister's position is "no longer tenable".
Comments during EP plenary
Speaking during plenary on Thursday morning, EPP president Manfred Weber said the European Union cannot be silent to what is going on in Malta.
“The situation in Malta has consequences for the entire European project,” he said, adding that “clear political links must have clear political consequences”.
The European Parliament has always “raised its voice” to claim the respect of rule of law and of the freedom of press to several governments in Europe, the EPP head said.
“Today it’s time to do the same in the case of Malta. Let’s raise our voice together,” he said.
Taking the floor after Mr Weber, Socialists and Democrats (S&D) president Iratxe García Pérez said the group, of which Malta’s Labour MEPs form part of, has “always been, remains and always will be” on the side of the rule of law.
“The rule of law works when suspects are arrested and legal proceedings are launched and that is what has happened over the past week in Malta,” she said.
The S&D president added that the EP must “respect the legal processes and not interfere with them”.
“I wish to clarify that our group has always been on the side of truth and justice. Others should be aware of the fact that you cannot just choose when it suits you to be on the side of the rule of law,” she said.
Contacted later, a spokeswoman for the socialist group said: Our Group, together with the whole European Parliament, is closely following the events in Malta. We are all very much looking forward to the conclusion of the criminal investigation so that all the truth comes out and justice is done."