Foreign Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela did not differ from what Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said about the opening of a public inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici told The Malta Independent.
Speaking in an event in the United Kingdom last Thursday, Abela said that Malta would be setting up a public inquiry into Caruana Galizia’s murder within the three month timeframe stipulated by the Council of Europe; a deadline which Muscat himself had never in actual fact committed to.
Asked for clarification as to why the two seemed to be saying different things, Bonnici said that in actual fact both Abela and Muscat had said “the same thing” – namely that Malta respects the Council of Europe as an institution but remains concerned over how such a public inquiry could impact ongoing criminal procedures.
Bonnici referred to an official letter submitted by the three accused of Caruana Galizia’s murder – Vince Muscat, Alfred Degiorgio and George Degiorgio – saying that the Council of Europe’s report impinges on their right to be presumed innocent.
“What is most important is that the procedures are not prejudiced, and we are going to engage with the Council of Europe with the aim of finding a way forward,” Bonnici said.
Asked whether this therefore means that the public inquiry is called after the three month period stipulated by the Council of Europe has elapsed, Bonnici was non-committal, repeating that what Abela and Muscat had said is “essentially the same” and that the government’s intention is that there is no prejudice created by this public inquiry.
Abela hit the headlines late last week after he appeared to commit to the three month deadline for the setting up of a public inquiry into the murder of Caruana Galizia – the first time a member of the government had done so.
“Basically, in that Council of Europe report there is that within three months, we need to have a public inquiry,” Abela said.
“My prime minister made it very clear that a public inquiry will be set up, so now it is even more visible – the statement that I made – that the public inquiry will be set up within the three months that the Council of Europe stated and the question is now how we can mitigate the possible difference and the possible impact that having a public inquiry at the same as a criminal investigation might have.
“So the position now is that we will abide by the timing that the Council of Europe dictated but we need to make sure that one does not impinge on the other,” he said.
The Prime Minister late last month committed to calling a public inquiry but did not specify whether the stipulated deadline would be met. He did however say that if a public inquiry results in the dropping of the criminal procedures against the three men accused, he would not take responsibility for it.
Original article found on The Malta Independent