Maltese NGO Repubblika has accused Prime Minister Robert Abela and Opposition Leader Adrian Delia of working in tandem to intimidate and isolate them.
In a statement, Repubblika defended its decision to report Abela, as well as AFM Commander Jeffrey Curmi and 11 soldiers to the police for the murder of migrants who were left stranded in Malta’s search and rescue region.
“Those who obeyed Maltese and international law have no reason to fear if Robert Abela believes justice reigns in Malta,” it said.
The NGO also claimed the Prime Minister “coordinated” with Opposition leader Adrian Delia, who earlier today visited the AFM’s headquarters to thank them for keeping Malta safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Prime Minister’s press conference tonight, coordinated with the Opposition leader’s statement earlier today, is a dangerous act of intentional intimidation aimed at isolating us to attacks and threats that we have already been subjected to and that we expect will increase.”
Repubblika’s police report was filed by its lawyer, PN MP and justice spokesperson Jason Azzopardi.
Abela tonight warned that Repubblika and Azzopardi’s actions have left the AFM with fewer resources at sea and will demoralise the AFM at a time when everyone if focused on safeguarding public health.
However, Repubblika vehemently denied that it is in any way undermining national efforts to combat the pandemic.
“Robert Abela mixed up two things that are unrelated – COVID-19 and the danger of dying at sea. We categorically deny that we are hindering the effort to overcome the pandemic, but we also refuse this pistol aimed to our heads which is warning us that if we open our mouths, we will infect people with COVID-19.”
Repubblika noted that Abela didn’t deny an allegation, made by emergency hotline Alarm Phone and published by The New York Times, that an AFM patrol boat had sabotaged the engine of a migrant boat.
“Abela and the AFM could have denied the allegations of sabotage on a migrant boat which spread around the world but they haven’t yet. We call for the testimony of this alleged incident, which is in the government’s custody, to be protected.”
Malta and Italy last week declared their ports unsafe to migrants crossing the Mediterranean in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. A few days later, the International Organisation for Migration reported that four bodies had been found on a migrant boat in Malta’s search and rescue region and the 47 surviving people on board had been returned to Libya.
Earlier today, the European Court of Human Rights turned down a request by Repubblika to urgently order Malta and Italy to reverse their decisions to close their ports to migrants crossing the Mediterranean.