Opposition leader Adrian Delia has defended PN MP Jason Azzopardi, after Prime Minister Robert Abela called him out last night for signing a request which called for a police investigation into the deaths of migrants at sea.
In a statement, Delia said the request for an investigation was filed by NGO Repubblika and that Azzopardi had signed it in his professional capacity as a lawyer.
“The Prime Minister last night referred to criminal reports filed by Repubblika with allegations against him and AFM officials, but he claimed that they were filed by PN MP and lawyer Jason Azzopardi, along with Repubblika, and that the accusations were being made by the Opposition.”
“This is a barefaced lie and the fact that [Abela] mentioned it seven times means he lied seven times. Azzopardi only acted in his professional capacity as a lawyer, not in his own name nor in the name of the Opposition. The Prime Minister, who is also a lawyer, knows this well.”
“He also knows that when someone files a police report, it is the police’s duty to act on it independently. In a democratic society, those who have police reports filed against them don’t go on the national broadcaster to tell everyone what happened to him but allow the judicial process to proceed independently and without any interference.”
“In a democratic society, we cannot accept attacks against lawyers who act on behalf of their clients. These things only happen in dictatorships, and the PM gravely failed in his own duties when he acted the way he did yesterday.”
Despite this, Delia added that he has instructed the PN to draft clear guidelines for its MPs on when they should inform the party about their professional work.
A few days after Malta and Italy declared their ports unsafe as a preventative measure against COVID-19, the International Organisation for Migration reported five deaths and seven missing migrants within Malta’s search and rescue zone
Meanwhile, migrant hotline Alarm Phone has accused Malta’s Armed Forces of sabotaging a migrant boat, an allegation it made after speaking to migrants on board the vessel.
Delia said that he won’t enter into the merits of the case but that Abela hasn’t yet denied this accusation and that instead he is trying to “play with public sentiment on migration”.
“Robert Abela tried to turn a sensitive issue into a partisan issue. There are serious accusations that people died at sea and, in serious countries, there should be an investigation. He only spoke spoke out, 24 hours later, because he found out he is being investigated.”
With regards the migration issue, the PN leader said people who don’t deserve asylum should be returned to their home countries immediately while those who do should be taken in by all EU member states and that harsh action should be taken against human traffickers.
However, he said the government should absolutely not allow people to die at sea.
“If we allow this to happen, we might as well say that we have lost our humanity. We don’t compromise with this principle and we expect the government to do likewise.”