“Lynching” Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar would not lead to justice in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said yesterday.

Speaking the day after thousands of demonstrators marched through Valletta demanding, among other things, Mr Cutajar’s removal, Dr Muscat stood by the embattled officer.

“I don’t think democracy is about booing, shouting or applauding. And I believe justice is not done by publicly lynching or blaming someone,” he said.

During the protest in Valletta on Sunday, most of the demonstrators carried placards calling for justice, which, they insisted, required change.

They hung a ‘mugshot’ banner depicting Mr Cutajar’s face on the law courts’ iron gates and called for his resignation.

It was later unfurled on the road in front of the Floriana police headquarters amid chants of “Justice, justice.”

Asked about the protesters’ demands, Dr Muscat said what people wanted, both at the protest march and at home, was justice.

The Police Commissioner, he said, should not be judged on the basis of a press conference, referring to last week’s crime conference addressed by Mr Cutajar, after which he was harshly criticised.

Nor should the head of police be judged on “an image being portrayed of him”, Dr Muscat said.

He said he believed Mr Cutajar would be assessed according to “his actions”. During Sunday’s event, participants expressed the view, including through two huge banners, that Malta had become a “Mafia state”, where the rule of law did not prevail and criminality thrived.

Dr Muscat insisted that the very fact that protesters were free to express such a sentiment ran contrary to their assertion. The national debate on the matter also proved that the Mafia had not taken hold of the island, he added.

Asked to explain the series of Mafia-style killings in recent years and recently exposed links to organised crime in Italy and Libya, Dr Muscat said he rejected the Mafia state label: “Just because there are repeat terrorist attacks on a country doesn’t mean that country is run by terrorists.”

Dr Muscat said the absolute majority of Maltese people shared his opinion that the country was not a Mafia state.

When asked whether there were any changes on the horizon, Dr Muscat said the government had been changing things in the country for some time. The big changes, he noted, would not come with the removal of individuals.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the wider issue is constitutional reform. I think the big change we can make as a country is to start this as soon as possible,” he said.

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