Prime Minister Joseph Muscat started his day on Tuesday with protesters calling him a “killer” and pelting his ministers with eggs.

Twelve hours later, he had a coded message from the president and more overt words of warning from a European Commissioner, a top MEP and two United Nations special rapporteurs to chew on, as the pressure on him to resign immediately showed no sign of relenting.

President George Vella used a televised address to the nation to appeal for calm while reminding everyone "from the biggest to smallest to seriously consider the consequences of their actions”.

Earlier in the day, an MEP fact-finding delegation said that it was “very concerned"  by the situation in the country. Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld, who led the delegation, said she found it hard “to see how the credibility of his office can be upheld.”

Ms in 't Veld would leave a meeting with top police officials feeling more reassured, praising them for their professionalism and saying Europol was involved in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder investigation. 

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MEP Roberta Metsola would later tell the press that Dr Muscat had admitted to the delegation that he felt “betrayed” given recent events.

EU Commissioner Vera Jourova warned Justice Minister Owen Bonnici that the EU would not tolerate any political interference in the Caruana Galizia investigation – a position echoed by two UN special rapporteurs for human rights later on Tuesday.

A magistrate selected to hear the compilation of evidence in that case – Nadine Lia – found herself contested by both the family of the victim as well as the alleged murder mastermind.

That mastermind, businessman Yorgen Fenech, has now filed a court application to nullify the decision to deny him a pardon, which Cabinet took last week.

As tensions rose, Joseph Muscat made a public appeal for Labour supporters to “stay home” and not take to the streets, unlike activists who protested outside the police headquarters and demanded Keith Schembri’s immediate rearrest.

As it happened

And that's a wrap...

9.43pm Protests have ended, the politics is now on the back burner and the protagonists have called it a night. It's time we did too. 

Thank you for joining us throughout the day, we hope we've helped keep you up-to-date. We'll have a summary of the day's key events available at the top of this article shortly. 


 

Why were police taking photos of protesters on Sunday? 

9.29pm  We wish we could give you a straightforward answer. But the truth is, they won't tell us


'Government taken hostage by criminals' - Delia 

9.15pm Opposition leader Adrian Delia met with the MEP delegation earlier this evening.
 
In a statement, the PN said that the party leader had told MEPs that a single person had taken over Malta’s democracy. 

“Malta is not corrupt and the Maltese are not corrupt but we have a government which has been taken hostage by criminals,” he said. 

Joseph Muscat, he told them, was now an illegitimate prime minister and Opposition MPs would not be attending parliament for as long as he remained in that post. 

 


 

United Nations experts join chorus of concern

9.05pm Joseph Muscat has received warnings from a European Commissioner and a European Parliament delegation today.
 
Now two United Nations special human rights rapporteurs have joined the fray. 

“The resignation of Mr Muscat, which takes effect in January, must mark the start, and certainly not the end, of genuine accountability for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia,” said David Kaye and Agnes Callamard. 

They say the murder investigation must be independent and impartial, and explain what that means, to avoid confusion. 

“Independence means that anyone potentially implicated in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, even if indirectly or by omission, must be fully removed from the public inquiry, including its overall conduct and the chain of decision-making, while impartiality entails a duty to follow the facts and ensure that the investigations are untainted by outside considerations.” 

Here's their statement in full.


Celebrity condemnation

8.53pm Malta's most famous export, Joseph Calleja, had his say earlier today, and he's pretty clear about what needs to happen. 

"Joseph Muscat must go now," the Maltese tenor has said. 

 

X Factor judge Howard Keith Debono is also disgusted.

"This is getting very dangerous & i sincerely hope common sense prevails placing partisan politics at the bottom of the priority list," he wrote on Facebook this afternoon. 


The man behind that Metsola-Muscat photo speaks

8.44pm Photographer Ben Borg Cardona's shot of Roberta Metsola refusing to shake Joseph Muscat's hand earlier on Tuesday has gone viral. 

He's spoken about it on social media: 

Here's that photo again, in case you missed it. 

Photo: European Commision/Afp/Ben Borg CardonaPhoto: European Commision/Afp/Ben Borg Cardona


Meanwhile, in Finland...

8.34pm Finland's Prime Minister Antti Rinne has resigned, after the head of the country's postal service, Finland Post, accused him of lying. 


'Everyone from big to small must be aware of their actions'

8.14pm President Vella made an appeal for everyone from top to bottom in Malta to be aware of their actions at this time. What do you make of that?

If you didn't catch it live, watch it back here:


'Malta deserves better' - President Vella

7.58pm President George Vella has just made a very short address to the nation. He appealed for calm and asked people to "consider where your actions can lead."

He said that "everybody from big to small, must be aware of the consequences of their actions."

"I want to be an instrument to avoid the worst if the situation continues to develop," he said, adding that he had spoken to many people on the gravity of the crisis. 

"I appeal for calm, let's steer away from spontaneous reactions, let's allow the institutions to work so we can slowly return to normality."

He added: "Only like that can we make sure that the damage being inflicted on our country doesn't become irreparable. Malta deserves better."

George Vella made an appeal for calm. File Photo: Darrin Zammit LupiGeorge Vella made an appeal for calm. File Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Watch live

7.32pm If you're at home, you can watch the protest live here:


Are the protests still justified?

7.21pm After almost two weeks of protests, are they still worthwhile? That's what we've been asking on our online poll. 

Here's what you've told us:


Middleman's letter tonight's protest focus

7.09pm This morning we published a hand-written letter from Melvin Theuma, the middleman granted a presidential pardon in exchange for what he knows about Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder. 

In it he implicates both Yorgen Fenech and the prime minister's former chief of staff Keith Schembri, in the October 2017 assassination.

Tonight protesters have enlarged that letter and placed it outside police headquarters, highlighting the sections that refer to Mr Schembri. He denies any involvement in the murder. 

An enlarged version of Melvin Theuma's letter left outside police headquarters. Photo: Matthew MirabelliAn enlarged version of Melvin Theuma's letter left outside police headquarters. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli


Meanwhile in Floriana

6.59pm A small crowd is gathering outside police headquarters. About 400 or so people are there, our reporters say.

And they've one message: "Police Commissioner do your duty. Arrest Keith Schembri."

Outside police headquarters an appeal to arrest Keith Schembri. Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaOutside police headquarters an appeal to arrest Keith Schembri. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina


 

What will the president say?

6.52pm We haven't heard much from President George Vella over the last fortnight. He will be very careful with what he says, considering his role as head of state.

You can expect him to appeal for calm and to perhaps explain his constitutional role in the crisis.

Remember that Yorgen Fenech, who stands accused of being complicit in Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder, has written to President Vella asking for a pardon in exchange for his information on people 'close' to Joseph Muscat. 


President to deliver a message to the nation

6.45pm We've just been informed President George Vella is going to address the nation. He'll speak in an hour's time (7.45pm) in a message that will be broadcast on TVM. 

We'll give you updates on what he says as it happens. 

George Vella will address the nation at 7.45pm.George Vella will address the nation at 7.45pm.


Why the change of protest venue?

6.29pm In half an hour, protesters will gather, but not outside parliament. After two weeks of demonstrations in Valletta, the venue has been changed.

They'll meet at police headquarters in Floriana instead.

"There is no parliament session today so it made more sense to move to the police headquarters, where we will demand that the [police] commissioner investigates Keith Schembri and Joseph Muscat,” a protest organiser explained.

Protesters will gather outside the police headquarters instead of parliament tonight. Photo: Jonathan BorgProtesters will gather outside the police headquarters instead of parliament tonight. Photo: Jonathan Borg


Fenech: Schembri tried to stop me giving evidence to police

6.09pm Yorgen Fenech, who stands accused of conspiring to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia, is still trying to get a presidential pardon.

In a court application today the suspected mastermind has also said that the prime minister's former chief of staff Keith Schembri tried to prevent him from handing incriminating evidence to police. 

Mr Fenech said Mr Schembri had made various efforts to stop him through promises and deception. 


Konrad Mizzi's Facebook page breaches ethics code

5.53pm  In other news, Konrad Mizzi has been found in breach of the ministerial code of ethics for his personal Facebook page.

Standards commissioner George Hyzler found that he had used public resources to maintain his private social media account.

But there'll be no action taken against the former Tourism Minister, due to his resignation from the post last week.

You can read all about it here


'Not now Joe'

5.44pm  Malta's meme accounts are having a field day with that picture of Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola refusing a handshake from Joseph Muscat this morning. Here are a few of the, shall we say, gentler ones.


Daphne murder suspects in money laundering case

5.27pm  News in from court. George Degiorgio, one of the three men accused of killing Daphne Caruana Galizia, has been trying to stop a money laundering case.

He and his brother Alfred and partner, Anca Adelina Pop, are being prosecuted after investigations into the journalist’s assassination two years ago roused suspicion about their lavish lifestyle. They were able to acquire luxury cars and yachts, despite being unemployed. 

His legal team are arguing that an affidavit drawn up in 2013 breached his right to remain silent. 

The magistrate has rejected this and said the issue was "frivolous and vexatious". 

So the case will continue.


What’s happened today so far 

Yorgen Fenech wants magistrate to abstain

4.32pm The Caruana Galizia family is objecting to magistrate Nadine Lia hearing the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech. And now Mr Fenech is objecting to her doing so, too. 

Both sides are saying that her familial ties to the Prime Minister's personal lawyer, Paul Lia, make her unsuitable to hear the case. 

The compilation is scheduled to begin on Wednesday (that's tomorrow) morning. 


Why young people are taking to the streets

4.18pm For almost two weeks now, there have been protests on the streets against Joseph Muscat.

We've noticed a growing number of young people among the demonstrators.

Our reporter Gordon Watson spoke to some of them, including several who are protesting for the first time in their lives, to find out why.

Gilbert, Rachel, Ariadne and Nick are among the young people taking to the streets. Photo: Bernard Casha/Gordon WatsonGilbert, Rachel, Ariadne and Nick are among the young people taking to the streets. Photo: Bernard Casha/Gordon Watson


'Joseph man-nies'

4.04pm Earlier, Joseph Muscat told Labour supporters to show their support for him at planned meet-and-greets, rather than by taking to the streets. 

The PL has now published a banner for the first three of those events. 

For those of you who do not speak Maltese: 'Joseph man-nies' means 'Joseph with the people'. 


Muscat replies to Caruana Galizia family's judicial protest

3.57pm On Monday, the Caruana Galizia family filed a judicial protest calling on authorities to investigate the Prime Minister and insisting that he steer clear of the ongoing murder investigation.

Dr Muscat filed his reply to that legal bid today. In it, he insists that 'I never put myself above the law'


AML specialists cancel Malta meeting

3.30pm A group of anti-money laundering specialists were due to fly in to Malta for a meeting on Thursday. 

They've now cancelled the event, citing "ongoing unrest". The event was due to be held at the Hilton. 


MEPs exit meeting with police commissioner

3.12pm Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld has spoken to reporters following the MEP delegation's meeting with commissioner Laurence Cutajar and top police investigators. 

She spoke positively of the police - "they're working hard, they're doing a professional job. Europol is playing an important role" - but was a bit less upbeat when asked about Keith Schembri being released without charges. 

"It is clear that our delegation is extremely concerned that somebody’s name who pops up in so many different cases is free," she says. 

"[But] you can’t just go around arresting people, you also have to have hard evidence."

Read more comments from Ms in 't Veld following MEPs' meeting with police.

Sophie in 't Veld speaks to reporters outside police HQ in Floriana. Video: Ivan Martin


Handshake, denied

2.50pm A Kodak moment from this morning's meeting between MEPs and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. 

Dr Muscat offers Roberta Metsola a handshake, but is rebuffed by the MEP. 

Photo: European Commision/Afp/Ben Borg CardonaPhoto: European Commision/Afp/Ben Borg Cardona


An EU Commission warning

2.40pm Vera Jourova had a phone call with Justice Minister Owen Bonnici this morning. 

She "insisted that the [Caruana Galizia] investigation has to be brought to conclusion without any political interference," her spokesperson told AFP. 

Here is a full report about the EU Commissioner's conversation with Dr Bonnici.


Stay home, Muscat urges Labour supporters

2.32pm Labour leader and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has urged supporters to ignore calls to take to the streets. 

"Those who back me and the Labour Party should stay home," he said. On Monday night, PL supporters gathered outside the party headquarters in a spontaneous show of support. 

"I will be visiting towns and thanking people for their support. And that's where I want to meet with you." 


Over-egging it? 

2.05pm Justice Minister Owen Bonnici walked into Castille a mess this morning, after an irate protester hit him with an egg. 

A Reuters camera caught the incident and video of it is now doing the rounds on Twitter. 


On your marks...

1.54pm Nominations for the Labour Party’s new leader will open next Monday. But that doesn’t mean candidates are twiddling their thumbs until then.

Ian Borg has acknowledged that he’s being urged to contest by some people within the party. 

“I’ve been urged by many people, but I will see how I can best contribute. The absolute priority is to remain united. That’s what continues to distinguish this government from the Opposition.” 

He was speaking to TVM.


What's on MEPs' agenda? 

1.39pm A delegation of MEPs began their day with a meeting with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat which went rather poorly, judging by the delegation chief's assessment of it

After that, they were due to meet deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, President George Vella and attorney general Peter Grech. 

They then headed into a meeting with police commissioner Laurence Cutajar and some of his top men, including the lead investigator on the Caruana Galizia case, Keith Arnaud. 

In the afternoon, MEPs will be meeting with Speaker Anglu Farrugia, Ombudsman Anthony Mifsud, representatives of the Caruana Galizia family and Opposition leader Adrian Delia. 

On Wednesday, they've got meetings planned with civil society groups, journalists, academics and lawyers. 

Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld, who is leading the delegation, walks in to police headquarters on Tuesday afternoon. Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaDutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld, who is leading the delegation, walks in to police headquarters on Tuesday afternoon. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina


Times of Malta editorial

1.29pm As you wolf down your lunch, have a read of our editorial today

"The Prime Minister was entrusted to lead the country for five years," we write.

"But this does not justify his sacrificing of its future by causing such harm to its reputation."


Bishops appeal for unity in 'difficult times'

1.10pm We've just got a statement into the newsroom from the Catholic Archdiocese of Malta. In it the Bishops of Malta and Gozo make an appeal for respect and unity during these "turbulent times."

"As in every society, disagreement is inevitable," they said.

"However, we are always called to express our legitimate opinions with respect for one another and with respect for the truth, without falling into the trap of hatred, lies and violence. Our appeal is that we, Maltese and Gozitans, seek the common good in a spirit of true loyalty to the principles of the Constitution of the Republic of Malta."

Gozo Bishop Mario Grech, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi releases a joint statement appealing for unity.Gozo Bishop Mario Grech, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi releases a joint statement appealing for unity.


Watch protest organisers press conference live

1pm Live outside Police HQ with Occupy Justice, Repubblika and Manuel Delia, the organisers of the protests demanding Joseph Muscat's resignstion:


Accountants demand 'immediate change'

12.47pm The Malta Institute of Accountants has said that the people leaving government "should make way now to avoid further reputational damage for Malta and above all to carry political responsibility". 

"We have been let down by the certain elements within government and the institutions... higher standards need to be implemented today through changes in the leadership of the country and of the institutions. We simply cannot wait anymore; our economy and our market dictate this."

Read our article about the entire statement.


MEPs not impressed with Muscat meeting

12.39pm Earlier we told you about MEPs meeting Joseph Muscat as part of an urgent delegation to Malta.

Sophie in’t Veld is the head of that group and she wasn't too impressed with the prime minister's account.

Watch her comments to the media afterwards. You can hear protesters in the background, so we've added subtitles.

Sophie in’t Veld, head of a delegation of MEPs visiting Malta says trust in politics has been "seriously damaged". Video: Jonathan Borg


Minister accuses protesters of 'seeking bloodshed'

12.24pm Family Minister Michael Falzon did not hold back in parliament this morning. 

He claimed that protesters are out "to create another martyr" and that their tactics are "aimed to lead to bloodshed"

In case you missed it, protesters blocked MPs inside parliament for a couple of hours on Monday and threw eggs and carrots at them. Labour MPs say some also threw urine.

There were no violent incidents.

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici followed that up by saying protesters were following plan hatched by the media, led by yours truly, The Shift News and blogger Manuel Delia. 


A not-so-good morning for the PM 

12.17pm Joseph Muscat had to be whisked into his Castille office under escort and from behind the safety of steel barricades this morning, as protesters called him a "killer". 

A stoney-faced Joseph Muscat is escorted to Castille.


Caruana Galizia family wants a different magistrate

12.14pm On Monday, magistrate Nadine Lia was drawn by lot to hear the compilation of evidence against murder suspect Yorgen Fenech. 

That's problematic, as the magistrate's father-in-law is the Prime Minister' personal lawyer and has represented many other top Labour politicians. 

Now the Caruana Galizia family has filed a legal application for her to abstain from hearing the case. 


Muscat tells MEPs he felt 'betrayed'

12.09pm  Joseph Muscat met with MEPs this morning. He has not spoken to the press (yet?), but MEPs have

“It is difficult to see how the credibility of his office can be upheld," said MEP delegation head Sophie in t Veld. 

MEP Roberta Metsola told the press she had asked the PM whether he felt betrayed. 

"The prime minister gave me a one-word answer: yes. He then went on to try and say he made a number of misjudgments and so he has to carry political responsibility for that", she said.

Roberta Metsola speaking to protesters outside Castille on Tuesday morning. Photo: Jonathan BorgRoberta Metsola speaking to protesters outside Castille on Tuesday morning. Photo: Jonathan Borg


'Simon Busuttil was among protesters throwing urine' 

11.49am Ian Borg told parliament this morning that it was "necessary" for Joseph Muscat to step aside. 

He also had a less-than-savoury dig at PN MP Simon Busuttil. 

For the record, our journalists saw protesters throw eggs, coins, carrots and (fake) cash at MPs, but not any urine. 

Simon Busuttil at a protest held last week.Simon Busuttil at a protest held last week.


Neville Gafà spotted at Schembri's house

11.33am OPM official and Keith Schembri confidante Neville Gafà was again seen leaving Keith Schembri's Mellieħa house this morning. 

Here he is, speeding off in his BMW. 

Video: Jacob Borg


'Muscat is no longer tenable' - PN 

11.27am The PN has issued a statement saying Joseph Muscat should quit at once. 

"With each day that he stays on as Prime Minister, irreparable damage is being done to the country," it says. 

Reminder: the PN is boycotting parliament for as long as Joseph Muscat remains there. 


Ian Borg on Keith Schembri

11.15am Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg was asked about Keith Schembri this morning, as he visited the Marsa-Ħamrun bypass project. 

The minister was not in the mood to be told that Schembri is reportedly backing him to be Labour's next leader. 

Video: Ivan Martin


A mental health warning

11.03am These stressful times can take their toll on a person's mental health. Don't take our word for it - it's something mental health professionals are concerned about. 

Read what experts suggest is the best way to handle such situations, and get in touch with the Richmond Foundation on 1770 if you or a loved one needs a helping hand. 


Maltese press gets international support

10.55am Local journalists have been working long hours in difficult conditions for the past couple of weeks.

Those conditions have included being locked in a room, battling to not have their phones confiscated and not being informed of ministers' press events. 

A group of international journalism organisations have now leapt to their defence and accusing the government of trying to "restrict press coverage and public scrutiny".  


No more Manoel Island plans for Tumas Group

10.44am Last year, we revealed that the Tumas Group had struck a preliminary deal with Midi plc to take over the Manoel Island project. 

Those €100 million plans have now been shredded, both companies have informed investors in a company announcement.


'MEPs faced down Muscat'

10.39am Roberta Metsola, who forms part of the MEP delegation currently in Malta, indicates that there was no love lost during a morning meeting with the Prime Minister.

"We refuse to sweep corruption, impunity and murder under the carpet," she tweeted

Joseph Muscat and his ministers and aides on one side, MEPs on the other. Photo: Twitter/Roberta MetsolaJoseph Muscat and his ministers and aides on one side, MEPs on the other. Photo: Twitter/Roberta Metsola


Activists to speak to the press

10.30am Civil society groups Repubblika and Occupy Justice are organising a press conference outside police headquarters in Floriana at 1pm. 

"We demand that the police commissioner investigate Joseph Muscat," they say. 

Activists will be returning to outside police headquarters at 7pm this evening for another demonstration.


'I was ignored, and look at what happened' - Sant 

10.21am Joseph Muscat's predecessor as Labour leader, Alfred Sant, has taken to Facebook to note that all this mess could have been avoided had Dr Muscat cracked the whip when he needed to.

"When you allow a scandal to spark and then catch fire, the chances are that it won't just flare up and then be done," he writes.

"More than three years ago when the first articles about the Panama companies cropped up, I had given advice that irked many. In fact I was ignored. And look at what happened". 

 


Middleman's letter

10.15am In case you missed it: a handwritten letter which investigators found at Yorgen Fenech's house alleges that both he and Keith Schembri were behind Daphne Caruana Galizia'smurder. 

The letter was written by middleman Melvin Theuma.

Theuma's handwritten letter.Theuma's handwritten letter.


'It's about trust' 

10.09am MEPs met with the Prime Minister this morning.

Here's what Dutch MEP Sophie in t Veld, who is leading the delegation, had to say following that meeting:

"We made it very clear there is a problem".

"This is not just between the Prime Minister and the Maltese people. This is also between Malta and the European Union. That trust has been very seriously damaged". 

She says she has not left the meeting with much more confidence. 

We'll have a full story about that meeting available shortly. 


Parliament in the morning

10am Parliament is holding its plenary session in the morning today. Might be a way of ensuring MPs are not trapped inside, as happened on Monday night. Parliament generally convenes at 4.3opm