MEPs considered that Joseph Muscat's departure in January could jeopardize investigations into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
MEPs said Wednesday that Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat should resign immediately and not just in January because there is a risk of jeopardizing investigations into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
In a resolution adopted with 581 votes in favor, 26 against and 83 abstentions at the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg, MEPs expressed concern about the integrity and credibility of investigations into the murder of the investigative journalist, fearing interference with this process. "This risk persists as long as the prime minister remains in office," they said in the document.
In the context of growing political unrest in Malta, the prime minister has announced that he will resign after the election of his party's new president, which will take place on 12 January 2020.
Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was investigating corruption in the country's political and business elite, was killed on October 16, 2017 with an explosive device in her car. Maltese Prime Minister is accused of intervening in the process to protect his former chief of staff, Keith Schembri, involved in the investigation.
In its resolution, the European Assembly called on the Maltese authorities to continue investigations and to remove external pressure. At the plenary session on Tuesday, the European Parliament debated the rule of law and recent developments in Malta following waves of protest to call for an investigation into Daphne's murder.
On this issue, MEPs consider that in Malta there are “serious and persistent threats to the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights, including freedom of the media, independence of the police and the judiciary, and freedom of peaceful assembly ”.
This Wednesday it was also determined that a “Daphne Caruana Galizia European Prize for Investigative Journalism” will be created, which will be awarded annually.
The discussion on Malta emerged after an urgent European Parliament mission was sent earlier this month to assess compliance with the rule of law. The European Assembly delegation met with the Maltese Prime Minister, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici, as well as the Speaker of the Parliament, the Prosecutor General and the Police Commissioner.
This delegation from the European Parliament was also in contact with representatives of non-governmental organizations, civil society, journalists and family members from Daphne Caruana Galizia.