Former minister Konrad Mizzi has indicated he will not cooperate with the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry, describing it as a "charade" that has been politicised.
In an astonishing six paragraph statement, Mizzi said he was "not duty-bound to prostrate myself in front of my political assassins".
He said key members of the Nationalist Party are playing a crucial role in the inquiry, politicising it and its agenda.
“As a government minister, I have always carried out my duties in the best interests of the public and of the country. The results we have achieved as a government created an environment where I have been the PN’s favourite whipping boy.
“Mud was thrown without ever bothering to produce a shred of evidence. My political adversaries have maliciously created suspicions to get rid of me and thus weaken the movement which I tirelessly worked in,” he said.
One year on
The statement came out almost exactly a year after he was forced to resign as minister amid the fallout from the Caruana Galizia murder investigation. He was due to testify at the inquiry into the circumstances surrounding her murder on Friday.
Mizzi was expelled from the Labour Party's parliamentary group in June by Prime Minister Robert Abela due to Mizzi's ties to the Panama Papers and Yorgen Fenech's company 17 Black.
Caruana Galizia had originally exposed his secret Panama company while Times of Malta and Reuters later revealed how murder suspect Yorgen Fenech owned 17 Black and planned to use it to deposit money in Mizzi's company.
Mizzi has denied any association with 17 Black.
'Purely political agenda'
In his statement on Thursday, Mizzi said the inquiry has deviated from its original purpose, and “I am concerned that it is being used to pursue a purely political agenda”.
“This was meant to be an inquiry into a heinous crime; the murder of a journalist. No allegations were ever made about me in this context,” Mizzi continued.
He said it did not make sense for him to testify in the inquiry in front of two prominent Nationalist party politicians, a reference to MPs Therese Comodini Cachia and Jason Azzopardi, who are lawyers for the Caruana Galizia family.
“It is clear that their sole aim is to turn this into a “star chamber”, and trash the government’s “highly successful record”.
“I understand the purpose, but will not be playing along with the charade,” Mizzi said.
Welcoming “any lawful investigation”, Mizzi said that this had to be done “in full compliance with the law”. He said that as a number of investigations are currently under way by various institutions, he had no choice but to wait for full disclosure by these institutions, for him to clear his name.
“I realise that some will have little sympathy, but I hope they will understand nevertheless that I am not duty-bound to prostrate myself in front of my political assassins,” Mizzi said.
He said that every project and initiative he led and had been responsible for was carried out “in the best interest of the country” and the lives of the Maltese and Gozitan public were improved.
“Of course, I have regrets. But I would also reiterate that every initiative I led was supported enthusiastically by the Cabinet of ministers,” Mizzi concluded.