Prime Minister Robert Abela refused to make any categoric statements on Tuesday in the wake of a damning report by the Standards Commissioner which found Education Minister Justyne Caruana guilty of a breach of a code of ethics.
“Let’s let proceedings take their course, and then we will take the required decisions,” he told reporters.
Caruana was found by commissioner George Hyzler to have breached ministerial ethics when she awarded close friend Daniel Bogdanovic a €15,000 three-month contract to review the National Sports School.
The report that was eventually presented to the ministry was not even written by Bogdanovic, and he repeatedly lied about it when questioned, Hyzler reported.
Asked by reporters what action he would take against Caruana, the prime minister said that in terms of the law, the commissioner’s report was not conclusive.
Now that his investigation report had been presented, and the parliamentary standards committee had rightly decided to publish it, the next stage was for the committee to decide whether or not to endorse it, or parts of it. Should that be the case, the committee would then discuss what sanction to impose.
If the institutions and the rule of law were to be respected, the process had to take its course before decisions were taken, the prime minister said.
When it was pointed out that he had acted differently with regard to then Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar, who was forced to resign her ministerial post, Abela said her case was different as it involved Yorgen Fenech (who stands accused of complicity in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia).
Cutajar had received a €9,000 gift from Fenech and had also reportedly pocketed thousands of euro from a property deal involving Fenech, but had not declared her income to parliament.
Abela pointed out, however, that he had stopped the Bogdanovic contract as soon as he became aware of it.
Grech: Abuse of power is fine for the prime minister
Opposition leader Bernard Grech in a Facebook post hit out at Abela's position, saying the prime minister's message was clear: "abuse of power is fine under his watch."
"This is Joseph Muscat with Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi all over again. Continuity in corruption. Using taxpayer for them and their friends to get rich quick. Meanwhile, while everyone else struggles to make ends meet and our educators are paid so little they leave the profession and our children’s education gets worse and worse," Grech said.
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