Minister Carmelo Abela could not recall whether it was pressure from Castille which led to the termination of Andrew Caruana Galizia’s diplomatic posting in India just after the 2017 general election.
Abela had just been appointed foreign minister when Daphne Caruana Galizia’s son was told to pack up his bags as he was being recalled from his foreign posting.
The minister was being questioned by lawyer and MP Jason Azzopardi in the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry, which is tasked with determining whether the State did all it could to prevent the October 2017 murder.
Abela insisted that Caruana Galizia’s transfer was not in retaliation to his mother’s writings.
Asked if there was pressure from Castille, he replied: “I don’t see the relevance of this question. I don’t remember such circumstances.”
The board intervened and asked if there was pressure from the office of the prime minister.
“I don't remember,” Abela said.
He admitted Keith Schembri was a point of reference for many individuals within the government but said individuals who were mentioned in the Panama Papers scandal ought to have first cleared their names.
“Had that happened, it could be that certain things that came later, would not have happened.”
Questioned about the so-called kitchen cabinet cited in earlier testimonies, Abela said the only cabinet he was aware of was the one which met weekly.
Having said that, he added that obviously, the prime minister might discuss with individual ministers at different times.
Speaking about the relationship between politicians and businessmen, Abela said he believed this happens the world over.
“It’s important to maintain a limit,” he said, adding he personally has no particular friendship with anyone from the business sector.
Chief Justice Emeritus Said Pullicino observed: “The problem is when business friendly becomes money friendly.”
Asked about the controversial ElectroGas project, Abela said the restructuring of the energy sector was a principal electoral proposal that the Labour government wanted to implement so as to fulfill its promise to cut down energy tariffs.
The minister said he got to know about the memorandum of understanding with Vitals Global Healthcare through the media. He also said he got to know through the media the friendship between murder suspect Yorgen Fenech and former deputy police commissioner Silvio Valletta.
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