MEPs investigate journalist's murder in Malta
THE Maltese Government has hit out at a Brussels delegation that travelled to the island country to look for more information about the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the "usefulness” of the visit was "questionable” and accused the members of the European Parliament of an "astonishing” and one-sided approach.
The cross-party group of MEPs travelled to the island last week week for the two-day fact-finding visit after the European Parliament passed a motion last month warning that Malta's law enforcement and judiciary might "be compromised”.
The resolution also called for an independent international investigation into the murder and closer monitoring of the Maltese authorities.
The 53-year old investigative journalist was killed by a car bomb in an apparent targeted assassination. Her reporting had been highly critical of leading figures in the island's government, especially over revelations in the Panama Papers scandal.
Speaking at the tail-end of the visit, delegation leader and socialist MEP Ana Gomes said the delegates' meetings "led us to realise that the perception of impunity is very wide here”.
She also described Malta's cash-for-citizenship scheme as "extremely problematic”.
The delegates, who come from six of the European Parliament's political groups, met the country's chief justice, Europe minister, the chief of police, and the PM's chief of staff.
Green MEP Sven Giegold said the delegation's meeting with the police commissioner showed the authorities' "high degree of unwillingness to investigate” and "partially demonstrated (their) incompetence to do so”.
"I am even more concerned over the rule of law now that before the visit and we must follow up on what we found,” he said.
But the PM, who was told by the murdered journalist's family that he was not welcome at the funeral, hit back, arguing the delegation was biased.
"We are engaging with you as a sovereign state, because we believe that most of the information you were fed was partial, its analysis one-sided, and conclusions misguided. Because we have nothing to hide, as we already did previously, we are willing to engage, as we do regularly with Council and the Commission,” he said.
"Unfortunately, the usefulness of this visit is rather questionable since many of you have already made statements and voted on a Motion for Resolution, before coming to ascertain facts.
"As you have noticed in your own reports, Malta's political system and media are highly polarised. It is therefore quite astonishing that you chose to meet a very partial representation of public opinion.”
Jon Stone, The Independent