A Standards Commissioner report that found former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his office guilty of ethics breached when journalists were prevented from leaving a room in Castille after a press conference will be discussed in a committee on Monday.
Lovin Malta is informed that the items on the agenda of the Permanent Committee on Standards in Public Life will meet to discuss the report at 4.30pm.
It will be up to the committee to see if action should be taken.
The report – which was triggered by an Institute of Maltese Journalists (IĠM) complaint – has not yet been made public but Lovin Malta is informed that it has been passed on to Speaker Anġlu Farrugia who in turn shared it with the members of the committee which he chairs and is made up of equal members on both sides of the Chamber. When a report is sent to the Speaker, it means there has been a prima facie breach.
The IĠM was also notified by the Standards Commissioner that the report had been concluded and was submitted to the Speaker’s office.
The committee members are PN MPs Karol Aquilina and Carm Mifsud Bonnici and Labour MPs Byron Camilleri and Edward Zammit Lewis. Standards Commissioner George Hylzer will also attend.
Last July, Muscat was also found in breach of ethics for accepting expensive Petrus wine bottles from murder suspect Yorgen Fenech as a birthday present. In August, the parliamentary committee declared the case closed after endorsing the Commissioner’s conclusions but accepting that Muscat had assumed responsibility already and was no longer an MP.
The Castille lockup case had also been discussed in court. Last November, a court cleared three makeshift security guards who were charged by the police for holding four journalists against their will.
This incident had taken place in November 2019, after Muscat addressed a press conference at 3am to announce that Cabinet had rejected a second request for a presidential pardon from Yorgen Fenech, the main suspect in the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination.
Her son Paul Caruana Galizia was one of the journalists who was prevented from leaving the room in which the press conference was held. This turned out to be Muscat’s last press conference and he announced his resignation as Prime Minister a few days later.
However, magistrate Joe Mifsud had dismissed the police’s charges that the men held journalists against their will, ruling that he wasn’t “morally convinced that the prosecution met the required grade of proof”.
He was also critical of the manner in which the police conducted their investigation.
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