Prime Minister Robert Abela has accused the Nationalist Party of being in cahoots with criminals to push claims linking minister Carmelo Abela to a bank heist. 

Fielding questions during a press conference, Abela claimed there was a “coordinated strategy” between the PN and unnamed criminals. 

Minister Abela was questioned on Wednesday after Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Alfred Degiorgio mentioned his name to the police in connection with the failed 2010 HSBC heist. 

The prime minister said he would not hesitate to take action if any credible proof were to emerge. 

Abela expressed bewilderment at how people accused of complicity in assassinating Daphne Caruana Galizia are now being given credibility. 

The prime minister said these criminals were trying to buy their freedom. 
If such criminals wanted their freedom, they should convince a jury of their innocence. 

Abela said the time for decisions to be taken by the “Żeppi il-Ħafijiet” of this world are over. (Zeppi l-Ħafi, real name Joseph Fenech, was granted a pardon by the Nationalist government for information about the stabbing of Richard Cachia Caruana, the personal assistant of then Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami.)

“I’m proud to have broken this circle of criminality”, Abela said. 

The prime minister dismissed comparisons between his contrasting treatment of Abela and parliamentary secretary Rosianne Cutajar, who stepped down in the wake of an investigation by the Standards Commissioner. 

Abela said the minister had strongly rebutted the claims, first put forward by Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi. 

He hinted that proof would emerge of this coordination between the PN and criminals. 

Questioned why Abela did not at least suspend himself until he clears his name, the prime minister said it was a “misnomer” to say ministers could suspend themselves.

PN insists Robert Abela must act

In a reaction, the Nationalist Party said Robert Abela had confirmed once more that for him, partisan interests came before the national interest.

“In any normal country, a minister within the Office of the Prime Minister who is being interrogated by the police over allegations linking him to a very serious case will, at least, be suspended from the Cabinet until investigations are concluded,” the PN said.

"The prime minister's silence and hesitation is damaging Malta's reputation. The ball is in his court to take immediate action," the PN said.  

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