The Prime Minister lied when he said he was unaware of any reports of misconduct by suspended fisheries director Andreina Fenech Farrugia, PN MP Jason Azzopardi said on Wednesday.
Speaking during adjournment time, Azzopardi tabled two documents which he said show the government was aware of alleged misconduct.
Andreina Fenech Farrugia was suspended over claims that she asked Spanish tuna kingpin Jose Fuentes for payment. In a statement, Fenech Farrugia "categorically" denied any wrongdoing and said she was strongly rebutting the allegations in her regard
Fenech Farrugia had previously served in the post until 2011, when she was removed. She was reinstated in 2013.
The government recently said that there were no reports or files on Fenech Farrugia and yesterday the Prime Minister informed journalists that there was nothing in her files to indicate wrongdoing.
“Not only did Joseph Muscat lie to journalists, but also to the public,” Azzopardi told Parliament.
Azzopardi said that in Fenech Farrugia’s file contained two particular reports: one from the IAID stating bad performance back when Fenech Farrugia was Director of Fisheries, and another, dating back to March 2013, where the EU Maritime Affairs and Fisheries director-general Lowri Evans is said to have been “delighted” at Malta’s progress in the sector, especially since the sector had been in a “bad place” two years earlier.
“Why did the Prime Minister lie to the public by saying that there was nothing in her file when he knew about these reports,” Azzopardi asked.
He further asked why the Labour Government, in 2013, re-appointed Fenech Farrugia, just weeks after EU officials noted improvement from an earlier bad situation.
Azzopardi said that it is important that these documents are analysed and brought to attention and for the Prime Minister to answer why Fenech Farrugia was placed back as Director of Fisheries.
The Planning Authority said they found no evidence that any persons were living in a quarry, converted in a sleeping compound, in a statement tonight.
This follows a story by the Times of Malta which said that hundreds of Turkish construction workers, which were recently flown to Malta to work on constriction projects, are expected to start living in a quarry in Mqabba, which is being turned into a sleeping compound.
The Authority said that it inspected the mentioned quarry and noted that a tent was pitched illegally in the quarry. The PA has issued an enforcement notice and the structure will be removed.
The owners of the quarry also noted that the tent was intended to be used as office premises and not for residential purposes, the statement read.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has recently hinted at the influx of more foreign workers, warning that this was necessary for the country to continue increasing pensions.
Opposition Leader Adrian Delia said on Wednesday evening that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is working only for himself and his friends for the ten years he planned to be in power. He has no direction or plan for the future after this.
Delia was speaking in Tarxien as part of the PN’s General Council.
He discussed the banking sector, which was again in the headlines this week. Following the cyber attack on BOV last week, he said that this week one of the two main banks in Malta issued an annual report noting less profit. It attributed this, in part, to the country’s poor reputation.
“This is a big concern that needs to be given importance,” Delia said, since all companies and investments depend on the banking system. He accused the government of denying the problem and as a result being nowhere near fixing it.
He mentioned that it is now near to impossible to open a bank account in Malta and also noted the saga of Pilatus Bank and Satabank, adding that now a global bank was making such a statement.
Delia made note of the recent reports about the data mining company Cambridge Analytica meeting with Joseph Muscat and Christian Kalin, CEO of passport-selling firm Henley and Partners. He said that if these meetings are related to the Golden Visa scheme, the consequences are large.
He said that the government is vehemently denying this evidence even though the information is coming from the UK parliament. Muscat spent a large part of the past legislature proudly portraying himself as the salesmen of this scheme but is now trying to go around it and hide behind the notion that it is related to the housing projects.
Muscat is now saying that without the scheme we cannot have the housing projects, just like he said that without foreigners we cannot have pensions, Delia said. “First he creates the problems and then sees who he is going to blame.”
Delia mentioned several reports reporting government’s disservice to Malta and says that instead of accepting these reports the government points its fingers at the PN. Unfortunately, Delia said, Malta cannot be disjointed from the rest of the world and we depend on investments from abroad. With this reputational damage, however, there are going to be consequences.
The PN actually defends Malta abroad, Delia said, saying that not everyone is corrupt. He said we need to do all we can to stop stop this government from placing Malta in a bad light. The government needs to make the necessary changes to the institutions and this needs to be done as soon as possible.
“We have come to a point of no return,” Delia said, adding that this harm will become irreversible. “You spend your life building a reputation but it only takes a day or two to lose it.”
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had “lied barefacedly” when he claimed to have been unaware of any misconduct justifying the transfer of currently suspended Fisheries director Andreina Fenech Farrugia away from the Fisheries Department in 2010 Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi claimed on Wednesday. Speaking on the adjournment in Parliament, Dr Azzopardi said Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri had also lied to Parliament when he stated that there was “no record” in Dr Fenech Farrugia’s file stating why she had been transferred in 2010. He also claimed that Environment Minister José Herrera had known of a magisterial investigation into Dr Fenech Farrugia since October 2018, but had nevertheless only taken action when the tuna bribery allegations story broke on Spanish and Maltese media. Read: Malta's fishy business mapped out The Opposition MP tabled a 100-page report compiled by the Internal Audit and Investigations Department (IAID), which falls under the Office of the Prime Minister and reports to the Principal Permanent Secretary. The report, he said, had followed a request by European Commissioner for Fisheries Maria Damanaki for an administrative inquiry on the basis of...
Archbishop Charles Scicluna heaped praise on investigative journalism which exposed clerical child abuse and gave the Church the opportunity to tackle the problem and make amends. “Thanks to the media for their interest in this topic, not only from a journalistic point of view but for so many investigative stories that brought this topic to where it should belong. “Journalists became part of the solution,” he told a press conference at the Vatican. Pope Francis has called a summit on preventing clergy sex abuse. The meeting, with almost 200 participants, will take place between Thursday and Sunday. The organisers will meet a dozen abuse victims who have gathered in Rome to protest about the Catholic Church’s response to the crisis and demand an end to decades of cover-up by Church leaders. The victims will not address the summit but will meet organisers on the eve to discuss their aspirations and expectations. Mgr Scicluna, the Vatican’s leading sex crimes investigator and an organiser of the meeting, said the summit will focus on the key aspects of dealing with the crisis: responsibility, accountability and transparency. “We need to come together to make the church a safe place.
Problems are not resolved by text messages and 'likes' on social media, Inter coach Luciano Spalletti on Wednesday warned unsettled forward Mauro Icardi, who was stripped of the captain's armband last week amid protracted contract negotiations. The Argentine has refused to play for the team since and underwent a scan and tests on Wednesday in Milan after complaining of a painful knee. The 26-year-old arrived at the Istituto Clinico Humanitas with his wife and agent, Wanda Nara, and his father, emerging 45 minutes later. "This morning, Mauro Icardi underwent a scan .. due to pain in the right knee," the team said in a statement. "The scans didn't reveal significant changes compared to those performed before the start of the current season." Icardi complained of the knee problem just after losing the captain's armband to goalkeeper Samir Handanovic last week. The decision came amid constant speculation over his future, fuelled by his wife Wanda on social media, which has caused friction within the team. "Some problems aren't resolved via chat, videos and 'likes' but with words and being together, with real contact," Spalletti told a press conference ahead of the team's Europa...
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic's partner gave a birth to a baby boy Wednesday, her office said, heralding it as a historic event although the conservative country does not legally recognise same-sex marriages or partnerships. "Ana Brnabic is one of the first Prime Ministers whose partner has given birth while in office... and the first in the world in a same-sex couple," her media office said in a statement. "The delivery went well and both the mother and baby are doing fine," it added. According to local media, the boy was named Igor. Brnabic, 43, became one of the few openly gay government leaders in the world when she came to power in June 2017. But she has not been a vocal advocate on LGBT issues in a country where homophobia is widespread. In February alone there have been at least two acts of vandalism at an LGBT centre in central Belgrade. During an appearance at a Pride parade in Belgrade in 2017, Brnabic declined to comment on whether she would like to see same-sex marriage legalised in her country. "I can't give you my personal opinion right now because I'm here as the prime minister representing the Serbian government," she said at the time. Although the country...
Jose Herrera, Minister for the Environment, has today confirmed that there are a total of seven Wasteserv sites operating without a permit, in a parliamentary question put forward by PN MP Jason Azzopardi.
This follows a story by The Malta Independent that reported that a number of Wasteserv sites, including parts of the Maghtab landfill complex and Civic Amenity Sites were apparently operating on expired permits.
Herrera noted that the permits expired in 2018, with one expiring in late 2017. In all cases, there is an application for renewal of the permits, which Herrera said: “take their time.” However, he also said that it would have been much better if the permits were extended before they expired, although he added that one must understand the nature of activity within these sites is essential for this country.
He continued that he does not think that Azzopardi is suggesting that until the process of renewal is ongoing we should cause environmental chaos by closing these sites since essentially the activity is a continuation of what was there before.
Waste treatment facilities, classified as high-risk installations, are controlled through the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and thus require an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) permit. The main aim of the IPPC regulations is to minimise pollution from various point sources, according to the ERA website.
An exercise conducted by this newspaper had found that the Ta' Zwejra non-hazardous engineered landfill in Maghtab is currently operating on a permit that expired on 24 July of last year.
On the other hand, the expiry date of the IPPC permit for Ghallis landfill - another part of the Maghtab facility, was not available. Ghallis takes all the non-recyclable non-hazardous waste generated on a daily basis by households and companies.
There are currently no other landfills in Malta, which means that there is currently no landfill permitted to operate.
This newspaper had also found that three civic amenity sites are also operating under what seemed to be expired permits. Unlike larger waste treatment facilities, CA sites require an Environmental Permit.
An Environmental Permit is one of two ways in which the ERA regulates the environmental impact of industrial installations that can have various environmental impacts, ranging from emissions to air or the marine environment to contamination resulting from accidents.
The current permit for the Luqa civic amenity site expired on 6 June 2018, according to information available on ERA's website.
The civic amenity site at Tal-Kus near Xewkija, Gozo, is operating on a permit that expired on 27 October 2018, and the civic amenity site called Pitkalija, located at Ta' Qali, is operating on a permit that expired on 15 April 2018.
An elderly man who pleaded not guilty to sexually molesting his friend’s girlfriend, whom he allegedly lured to his home under a false pretext, was remanded in custody upon his arraignment on Wednesday. Manweli Zahra, the 67-year old Birżebbuġa resident was charged with groping the 32-year-old vulnerable woman, forcing himself upon her in an unwanted show of intimacy, and demanding sexual favours. The man had apparently lured the woman to his home on Sunday afternoon, telling her that he had news about her boyfriend whom she had not seen for a while. Having chatted to her previously about her boyfriend and thus gained her trust, the man’s invitation was taken up by the unsuspecting woman who went to the accused’s home where the alleged offence was committed. The man pleaded not guilty and requested bail, his legal aid counsel Yanika Bugeja stating that the man was still presumed innocent and further pointing out his clean criminal record. Moreover, given the man’s apparent mobility problems, the prospect of his escape from Malta was rather unlikely. However, prosecuting Inspector John Spiteri strongly objected to bail, not only because of the nature and severity of the offences,...
Over €1.3 million was spent on interior decoration at the Auberge de Castille since 2013, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said in reply to a parliamentary question Wednesday.
PN MP Jason Azzopardi put forward the question to which Muscat detailed that the works consisted primarily of refurbishment works, which were needed in all departments that operate from Castille.
Nearly the same amount of over €1.2 million was invested in refurbishment works, in Castille, during the previous Nationalist administration. The aim of this investment was to give dignity to Auberge de Castille as the Prime Minister’s office, Muscat said.
Work done from 2013 onwards included painting and other such works in the offices and halls, electrical interventions to conform to modern standards, change in furniture, works on the office doors, skirting, parquet floorings, gypsum works, polishing of floors, work on the windows of the offices and halls, changing of curtains, works on CCTV and works in the kitchens and restrooms.
Over the last six years, the Auberge the Castille has hosted a number of events related to CHOGM, the Valletta Summit in 2015, and the Maltese EU presidency in 2017, apart from 50 visits from foreign heads of state.
In January 2014 there was also a fire in the reception area of Castille.
More than €1.3 million were invested at Castille in the past six years, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Wednesday. Replying to a parliamentary question by Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi, Dr Muscat said a good chunk of the investment, which came to €1,315,023, was on refurbishment. Dr Muscat noted that nearly the same amount - €1,261,117 - had been invested in the refurbishment of Castille by the last Nationalist administration. The aim of the investment carried out in the past years was to give the auberge the dignity it deserved as the Prime Minister’s office. Work carried out since 2013 included whitewashing and other works related to offices and halls, interventions on the lighting system to get this in conformity with modern standards, the replacement of furniture, work on office doors, skirting works, parquet floorings, gypsum works, floor polishing, work on office windows and halls, replacement of curtains, work on CCTVs and work on the restrooms and kitchenettes. Dr Muscat noted that in the past six years, the auberge hosted a series of events related to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the Valletta Summit 2015 and the EU Council Presidency in 2017. This...
An elderly man who allegedly manipulated and sexually assaulted a psychologically infirm young woman has appeared in court on Wednesday afternoon.
Police Inspectors John Spiteri and Roderick Attard arraigned Manweli Zahra 68 from Birzebbugia under arrest before magistrate Marse-Anne Farrugia. Zahra was accused of committing a sexual act on a vulnerable person and subjecting her to an act of physical intimacy or asking her for sexual favours. A protection order was requested, as was a treatment order for the accused.
The accused had lured the woman to his house on February 17, where the alleged abuse took place, after striking up a conversation about her ex-boyfriend, said the prosecution. Once there, the accused had allegedly fondled the woman’s breasts, Inspector Spiteri said.
The police were called after the vulnerable woman, terrified and upset after the incident, spoke to a social worker.
Zahra, who walked into court with great difficulty, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Defence lawyer Yanika Bugeja, appointed as legal aid to the accused, requested bail.
The prosecution objected to the request, primarily due to the nature and severity of the charges and secondarily due to the fear that he would tamper with evidence. The alleged victim, although in her thirties, suffers from psychiatric problems and is easily manipulated to pervert the course of justice, explained Inspector Spiteri.
The prosecution said it was still premature to grant bail, pointing out that the accused had allegedly first obtained the victim’s trust and then committed the alleged assault.
Bugeja argued that the accused was presumed innocent until found guilty. The accused had a clean criminal conduct and would not try to escape or abscond due to his mobility problems. Furthermore, conditions could be imposed to protect the alleged victim, she said.
Inspector Spiteri replied that the first test of the necessity for arrest is carried out by the police. Although it was true that the accused had a clean conduct and was of a certain age, the court had in this case, a vulnerable witness who was “very easily manipulated.” The possibility of having her testify via videoconferencing was also mooted.
The court, in view of the nature of the charges and the real fear of tampering with evidence, denied bail and remanded the accused in custody.
Facebook has been likened to a “digital gangster” by a critical parliamentary report into disinformation and fake news. One witness in the 18-month inquiry into the way digital platforms have transformed the flow of information describes the current use of technology as “hijacking our minds and society”. The report, commissioned by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, concludes that “political choices might be influenced by online information”. It goes on to say: We must use technology, instead, to free our minds and use regulation to restore democratic accountability. We must make sure that people stay in charge of the machines. It is an indisputable conclusion. But there is a lot less certainty around what this regulation should look like. I would argue that the algorithms that are used by Facebook and other digital media can only be controlled by algorithmic regulation. The two key recommendations of the report are an investigation into Facebook’s data use and anti-competitive practices. This followed conclusions that “the Cambridge Analytica scandal was facilitated by Facebook’s policies” and “it is evident that Facebook intentionally and knowingly...
It had not been in the government’s interest to expropriate the Fekruna lido, former Lands Commissioner Peter Mamo said on Wednesday. He was addressing the Public Accounts Committee which was continuing with its discussion on a National Audit Office report into the 2013 land deal by the previous Nationalist administration. According to the report, on March 5, 2013, just days before a general election, the Land Department had signed a contract transferring two properties (one in Swieqi, the other in San Ġwann) worth €4.3 million jointly as payment for land expropriated at Fekruna Bay, Xemxija. The Fekruna land was valued at €5 million and the difference in favour of Fekruna Ltd, €700,000, was offset against amounts due to the government by the company in lieu of capital gains tax and duty on documents. The report found that taxpayers had lost more than €1 million through the deal. Mr Mamo said that, in principle, expropriation involved a “forced” land transfer, where the seller was not a willing party to a sale. However, both the government and the landowners had been willing parties, and had carried out negotiations to identify the sites for which Fekruna would be exchanged even...
A man who allegedly devised a scheme to defraud some 13 individuals over a three-week span was remanded in custody after a request for bail, specifically to undergo rehabilitation, was turned down by the court. Thomas Camilleri, a 30-year-old unemployed Gżira resident, was arraigned on Wednesday under arrest, pleading not guilty to no less than 30 charges, involving fraud and misappropriation of 13 individuals, one charge of aggravated theft and a charge of relapsing. The man was further charged with breaching earlier bail conditions. Police investigations had led to the arrest of the suspect who reportedly used to trick his victims by ordering goods, taking delivery of the order at the front door, disappearing from sight under some false excuse, only to slip away through some other exit without paying for the goods. Upon his arraignment, the accused’s lawyer, Yanika Bugeja, assisting him as legal aid, made a request for bail, limiting the request solely so that the man could immediately seize upon an opportunity to enter a drug rehabilitation programme. However, the request was strongly objected to by the prosecution, not only in view of the serious nature of the offences, but...
Fulvio Collovati, a 1982 World Cup winner with Italy, has been suspended from his role as a television pundit over sexist remarks about women and tactics. "Rai has suspended Fulvio Collovati from all TV and radio activity until Saturday, March 9," the broadcaster said in a statement on Tuesday. The announcement came after the former defender said women could not "speak about tactics" on Sunday's edition of "Quelli che il calcio". "When I hear a woman speak about tactics it turns my stomach. I can't do it. If she talks about the match and how it went, okay. But she can't talk about tactics because a woman doesn't understand like a man," he said in an outburst that caused embarrassment on the set. The 61-year-old former AC Milan, Inter and Roma defender subsequently apologised and received the support of his wife Caterina, also a TV presenter. "Tactics explained by a woman don't convince me. When I presented football shows, I never had the nerve to explain the 4-4-2," she tweeted. His comments have been roundly criticised in Italy, notably drawing the ire of those involved at the top level of women's football. "I would gladly invite him to talk tactics, to see who knows them best.
It's hard to imagine a country up in arms over a new public holiday - but that was the near-universal reaction Wednesday to Austria's plan to give workers an afternoon off on Good Friday. The Austrian government had come up with the plan as a way of conforming to a ruling by the European Court of Justice last month that it was illegal for Good Friday to be a full holiday for members of certain Christian churches only. In response, the government announced on Tuesday that starting from April 19 this year, everyone would be able to leave work at 2pm. But that decision has drawn widespread criticism all round. Adherents of the Protestant churches - who until now had the right to take the whole day off - branded the new rules unfair, while businesses said the new holiday would be too costly. Even unions said the new measure amounted to a government "making fools" of employees. "A holiday which starts at 2pm on a Friday, when a lot of employees will already have finished work at midday anyway, is ridiculous," said Bernhard Achitz, from the Austrian Trade Union Confederation (OeGB). The working day generally starts early in Austria, and many businesses are in the habit of ending the...
The rapid scale-up of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine could virtually eliminate cervical cancer in a handful of rich countries within three decades, and in most other nations by century's end, researchers said Wednesday. Without screening and HPV vaccination, more than 44 million women will likely be diagnosed with the disease over the next 50 years, they reported in The Lancet Oncology, a medical journal. Two thirds of these cases - and an estimated 15 million deaths - would occur in low- and medium-income countries. By contrast, the rapid deployment starting in 2020 of screening and vaccination could prevent more than 13 million cervical cancers by mid-century worldwide, and lower the number of cases to below four-per-100,000 women, the study found. "This is a potential threshold for considering cervical cancer to be eliminated as a major public health problem," the authors said in a statement. Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported 570,000 new cases worldwide in 2018, making it the fourth most common cancer for women after breast, colon and lung cancer. The disease claims the lives of more than 300,000 women every year, mostly in lower income...
A suspected con-artist’s luck ran out this afternoon after he was remanded in custody over 30 alleged crimes.
Thomas Camilleri 30, Gzira, was accused of 13 counts of fraud, 13 counts of misappropriation, and one count each of aggravated theft, handling stolen goods by buying stolen cheques, breaching bail and relapsing.
The accused is believed to have committed at least some of the crimes by ordering the delivery of goods at a particular address and when taking delivery of the items, pretending to go inside for his wallet and then escaping through another exit.
Lawyer Yanika Bugeja, legal aid to the accused, entered a plea of not guilty and requested bail to allow him to follow a drug rehabilitation programme.
The prosecution objected to bail, primarily due to the nature of the charges and also because before arraigning him, the accused had informed the prosecution that some form of arrangement had been made with Oasi foundation. Checks, however, showed that these arrangements had never been made. The man had already been on bail and was in fact being charged with breaching bail, added inspectors Colin Sheldon and Bernardette Valletta.
Bugeja argued that the accused is still presumed innocent and that the request for bail was qualified by the request that he be sent to rehab.
Bail was being requested as in case he is given a place at Oasi, he will not miss out due to being in custody, she said. In addition, it could not be argued that he had breached bail when he was just charged with this and was still presumed innocent.
Inspector Sheldon said that he had spoken to the priest in charge of Oasi and confirmed that there are no arrangments as alleged by the accused.
The court, on the issue of bail said it wanted a representative of Oasi to confirm whether or not the accused had a place there. It is premature for bail to be granted, it said. “I want my mind at rest that there is a real prospect of him undergoing the programme,” explained the magistrate. The defence requested that if bail was denied, the man be held at the forensic unit due to “problems.” The court said it had no problem making a recommendation in this regard at a later stage, but said that the accused was not being deemed a trustworthy person, in view of his voluminous criminal record. Bail was denied.
The ground ginger found in Tiger stores has been recalled because it contains high levels of benzo(a)pyrene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, the health authorities said. The affected batch is from Lot L180817 3 and its durability date is August 18, 2019. It comes in 60gram packets.