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| Malta: Malta Independent.com.mt : (Laatste update: woensdag 1 februari 2023 00:38:53)
Foreign workers paid over €202 million in social security contributions in 2021
Social security contributions by non-Maltese persons reached over €202 million in 2021, which increased six-fold since 2012.
This information was tabled in parliament on Tuesday by Finance Minister Clyde Caruana in reply to a question by Nationalist MP Ryan Callus.
The figures show that non-Maltese workers have paid to over €1 billion in social contributions since 2012.
The figures reflect the increased foreign workforce since 2014 which acted as the basis of the government's economic growth strategy. In fact, the first significant increase happened between 2014 to 2015 when social security contributions increased by under €14 million. Then this rose, even more, each year.
Even during the pandemic, from 2019 to 2020, there was just under a €20 million increase.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 20:03:00 +0000
Over 280,000 fines issued by LESA in 2022
The Local Environmental Safety Agency (LESA) issued 280,726 fines between 1 January and 20 December 2022.
This information emerged in Parliament on Tuesday, when Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri responded to a question asked by Nationalist MP Ivan Bartolo.
The 2022 figure is less than the 342,725 fines that were issued in 2021, however, similar to the 261,280 fines issued in 2020.
Out of the issued tickets in 2022, 16,879 of these were contested. Out of these, 5,211 petitions were accepted, 141 were partially accepted, 10,548 were not, and 979 decisions are still pending.
In 2021 there were 26,498 fines contested and in 2020 there were 17,477.
The tribunal also heard 4,119 cases in 2022, where 2,578 were found not guilty and 1,541 were guilty.
In 2021 there were 12,126 cases heard by the tribunal and in 2020 there were 6,669 cases heard.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 19:36:00 +0000
Builders and contractors should be licensed – PN MP
Nationalist MP Albert Buttigieg said that builders and contractors should be licensed.
He spoke in Parliament as MPs were discussing an amendment to the Criminal Code that will authorize the involvement of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority in magisterial inquirues arising out of industrial accidents or incidents happening at a place of work.
The role of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) is to oversee workplace safety. To date, the OHSA can investigate cases but it is not involved in the magisterial inquiry appointed to every incident in the workplace. The magisterial inquiry collects and protects necessary evidence and determines whether any specific person or persons may be arraigned.
The PL insisted that this will not affect the process of the magisterial inquiry, it will only be aiding the process of the magisterial inquiry.
However, the PN has said that this proposed bill is "half-baked" and "dangerous" as it would allow external interference in the magisterial inquiry process which could compromise the rights of both victims and the accused. The PN emphasised the importance of maintaining independence during the magisterial inquiry process.
Buttigieg pointed out how other professions such as lawyers and doctors all need licensing, however, builders and contractors do not need it, even though people's lives depend on them.
He also said there is a course at MCAST which should become obligatory for all builders and contractors.
When talking about the number of pending magisterial inquiries, he said that there is an agreement from both sides of the House that there is a backlog open magisterial inquiries for injuries and fatalities.
Buttigieg also insisted that the number of fatalities should not only be seen as a statistic, because behind every death there is a family that is traumatised.
He added that more human resources are needed to deal with cases.
"Justice delayed is justice denied."
He said that if the government believes that there is a need for more of this kind of work, the government needs to make sure that professionals are carrying out this work.
He pointed out that the almost 4400 inspections that the OHSA carried out last year were not enough and more needed to be done. He compared this to 2001 when there were over 9000 inspections, during a time when less development was taking place.
He also said that spot checks need to be more frequent, and therefore, it should be an obligation that an OHSA official is on construction sites with a checklist to make sure everything is in order.
PL MP Ray Abela pointed out how 6000 skill cards have been granted to workers who have undertaken the basic course since the Building Industry Consultative Council launched the skills card.
He also said that besides the inspections the OHSA carried out in 2022, it issued almost 600 notices to improve health and safety, and almost 700 notices to stop works being carried out.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 18:53:00 +0000
More than 500 domestic violence cases in 2022
There were a total of 513 cases of victims of domestic violence in 2022, data tabled in Parliament by family Minister Michael Falzon showed
The minister said that Aġenzija Appoġġ doesn't investigate reports, but rather offers support to victims who come forward.
Falzon was replying to a parliamentary question by PN MP Bernice Bonello.
Data showed the number domestic violence victims of various ages for the years 2012 to 2022.
In 2012 there were a total of 520 females and 17 males, in 2013 531 females and 15 males, in 2014 516 females and 19 males, in 2015 there were 520 females and 17 males, in 2016 there were 457 females and 10 males, in 2017 there were 490 females and 17 males, in 2018 there 603 females and 62 males.
However from 2019 till 2021 there was a drastic increase in numbers as in 2019 there were 926 females and 223 males, in 2020 there were 1060 females and 230 males, in 2021 there were 924 females and 175 males.
In 2022, the number of victims almost halved and went back to what the average was before 2019 with 421 females and 92 males.
In his explanation Falzon said that that when contacted Agenzija Appogg does a risk assessment from which a personalised action plan is derived.
Additionally another risk assessment is also carried out within 24 of police receiving the report, after which a social worker is allocated to the case.
The minister said that when a victim contacts the agency, a risk assessment is carried out and the victim is guided to file a report with the police, and a medical reports in cases where they would have injuries as a result of abuse.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 18:32:00 +0000
Positive Parenting Malta launches legal training programme in custodial matters
Positive Parenting Malta has launched plans to implement a programme that would help foster awareness about custodial arrangements among judicial professionals who work with families and children.
In the last few months, specialized training was already given to judicial members who have direct contact with children, namely child lawyers and mediators. Over the course of a few weeks, an online training course aimed at increasing their awareness and sensitivity on the subject will also take place.
These details were announced during a press conference by the Minister for Social Policy and Children's Rights, Michael Falzon, and the Minister for Justice, Jonathan Attard, where they provided details on how the cooperative venture between these two ministries is leading to new initiatives, which they say are necessary in light of new social realities.
Both pointed out that this is also another electoral promise of this government which will be implemented to strengthen the legal safeguards that protect the interests of children and both parents, even in cases where the two parents do not live together.
Positive Parenting Malta presented a study showing how to create a more positive culture within families, as well as showing how they can assist families directly.
Through similar interventions, Positive Parenting Malta sought to show how they can reduce conflict between parents and strengthen the relationship between children and both sides, especially with the parent who does not have much time with the children, even by court decision.
These circumstances often directly affect members of the family and sometimes the children. Consequently, cases like these can lead to anxiety, tension, and even pressure on the whole family.
Falzon stated that we ought to embrace the concept of 'shared parenting', with the aim that children receive the love and care that they need from both parents, even if the parents are separated.
He also stated that the government is implementing various initiatives that increase the awareness of crucial concepts, such as that of Parental Alienation, to prevent situations where children suffer, to the detriment of one parent or the other.
Attard went on to state that, as a government, they firmly believe in providing the requisite resources so that those involved in the legal process would be equipped to handle their affairs in an optimal manner.
In light of such considerations, Attard said that it was imperative for judges, mediators, and child lawyers to receive various training sessions on the concept of 'shared parenting', based on the international literature and scientific evidence.
Attard stated that this training must be comprehensive and also used by lawyers practicing in the family court.
The Chairperson of Positive Parenting Malta, Ruth Sciberras, explained that the taskforce will address specific issues that affect family dynamics.
It will not only provide training sessions for professionals working in the judiciary, but also for others who work directly with families in government agencies.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 17:37:00 +0000
MFA Executive Board turns down Joseph Portelli’s request to register as a player
Joseph Portelli’s bid to be registered as a Hamrun Spartans player has been turned down by The Malta Football Association’s (MFA) Executive Board.
In a statement, the MFA said: "The Malta FA Executive Board met today to discuss the request by Ħamrun Spartans FC to register Mr Joseph Portelli as a professional player following his resignation from the post of club president. The recommendation of the Ethics and Compliance Committee not to accept the registration was confirmed by the Executive Board, which is ultimately the competent body to decide on such matters on the basis of the Association's Reputational Risk Management Policy."
"The decision is subject to appeal."
Yesterday, the Hamrun Spartans Football Club had presented Portelli’s resignation from the post of club President. The resignation had to take place before the club could attempt to register him as a player. Malta’s football rules dictate that it is not possible for a president to be registered as a player.
Last April, Portelli had played for Nadur Youngsters in a 1-1 draw against Kercem Ajax. He scored Nadur’s equalising goal from the penalty spot.
He had played football competitively in Gozo with Nadur when he was much younger, but had stopped the sport due to other personal commitments.
Portelli is a well-known developer whose projects have created environmental controversies in the past years.
Portelli’s companies, apart from sponsoring Hamrun, are also sponsors of Nadur Youngsters, where Portelli’s son serves as president, Qala Saints and, in waterpolo, San Giljan ASC.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 17:11:00 +0000
Ship’s arrest in Malta after vessel sold in judicial sale free and unencumbered declared illegal
The arrest of a ship in Malta by the holder of a maritime hypothec has been declared illegal on appeal, since the ship had been sold to new owners in Jamaica through a judicial sale by auction.
In a judgment handed down by the Court of Appeal in the case Dr. Ann Fenech (nominee on behalf of Bluefin Marine Limited) vs Jebmed SRL, the court confirmed the judgement delivered by the first Court of the Civil Hall by Mr.Justice Mark Chetcuti.
The case revolved around the arrest of the vessel Bright Star in June 2018 by Jebmed SRL, after the vessel - which was previously called Trading Fabrizia - had been sold to new owners in a judicial sale free and unencumbered in Jamaica earlier in 2018. Jebmed SRl were old creditors of the vessel who had arrested the vessel in Jamaica and sought her judicial sale there.
On 19 June 2018, Bright Star, under the new owners following the judicial sale, was on its way from Kavkaz in Russia to Venezuela with 30,000 tonnes of grain. It was ordered to stop in Maltese territorial waters for bunkering, and when it stopped in Malta, it was arrested through an arrest warrant issued by Jebmed SRL.
On 12 July 2018, the court decided to revoke the arrest warrant that was, instead, substituted with funds deposited in court.
The owners claimed that since they had purchased the vessel free and unencumbered in a judicial sale, , Bright Star was illegally arrested, and that because of their commercial obligations they were constrained to deposit the sum of €779,346.61 for the ship to be able to continue with its work, and that they, as the new owners, suffered damages and serious consequences from the "illegal act". The owners said that they suffered substantial damages due to the ship being unable to be used for a time, bunkering while it was arrested in Malta, and other things.
The Court of Appeal took note of the previous maritime hypothec by Jebmed SRL on the vessel, but also noted that the vessel had been sold free and unencumbered through the judicial sale in Jamaica to the new owners. The new owners argued that as a result of the sale free and unencumbered the maritime hypothec over the vessel had been extinguished and that the creditor had to turn to the proceeds of the sale.. Jebmed SRL, on the other hand, held that the State of Jamaica does not recognize its executive title, nor the maritime hypothec, and so the rights it had on the ship were still in force.
The Court of Appeal noted, however, that Maltese law doesn't make a distinction, but states that a maritime hypothec must end once the vessel is sold through a judicial sale. The law states that the interest of creditors, in the case of a vessel being sold free and unencumbered under the authority of a court, "shall pass on to the proceeds of the sale." This, the court noted, means that the interest of the creditors on the vessel ends, and is passed on to the proceeds of the sale. The owners of the vessel submitted that Jebmed was free to pursue payment from the vessel's proceeds and the court in Jamaica had reserved one million for Jebmed to pursue and enforce its claim.
The fact that Jamaica doesn't automatically recognize maritime hypothecs issued in Malta "is not relevant to the case," the court said. "The sale of the vessel occurred free and unencumbered, and Maltese law states clearly that each sale under a sale by judicial auction cancels out a hypothec registered on a vessel. Our law makes no condition of any form of reciprocity."
The court has agreed with the first court's decision, that the arrest was illegal.
The vessel was represented by lawyers Ann Fenech, Adrian Attard and Martina Farrugia.
Ann Fenech said that this is a very important judgement which confirms the position under Maltese law, leading to legal certainty for the benefit of international trade and international shipping, particularly since Malta is the largest flag in Europe and when Malta is an important location for the judicial sale of ships. "The importance of the subject matter is underlined by the fact that the General Assembly of the United Nations has as recently as the 7th of December 2022 adopted a new Convention on the International Effects of Judicial Sales of ships which provides that when a vessel is sold free and unencumbered it cannot be re arrested by a previous creditor of the vessel," Fenech added. Arrangements are currently being made for the signing ceremony to take place later on this year in Beijing after which the Convention will be open for ratification by Member States, Fenech said.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 16:27:00 +0000
Karl Cini refuses to answer all questions in PAC session
Nexia BT partner Karl Cini today chose not to reply to any of the questions he was asked during a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing on Tuesday afternoon.
The PAC is examining the Auditor General’s report on contracts awarded to Electrogas Ltd by Enemalta. The company had won the tender to build and operate a gas power station and LNG terminal.
Cini was asked to testify as Nexia BT was on the financial committee that had evaluated proposals submitted for the project.
“My client will not exercise a right to not incriminate himself, but a right to silence,” Cini’s lawyer Stephen Tonna Lowell said at the start of the session.
Nationalist MP Darren Carabott said that the Speaker already ruled on situations like this, after former Minister Konrad Mizzi had also refused to answer questions put to him when testifying before the same committee in the previous legislature.
Carabott insisted that Cini can only choose not to respond to questions that could incriminate him. All other questions had to be answered.
Tonna Lowell maintained that his client has a right to remain silent, and that this is a basic human right.
Carabott asked a string of questions about the tender process and Nexia BT’s involvement in the Electrogas project.
To each one, Cini replied: “I exercise my right to silence.”
“Didn’t you feel that there was a conflict of interest when Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi were clients of Nexia BT while Nexia BT was chosen as a consultant for the tender?”
“I exercise my right to silence.”
Carabott said he will report what happened in the session to the Speaker of the House before Tuesday’s parliamentary sitting. “Then it’s up to the Speaker to take the necessary steps”.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 15:33:00 +0000
Maltese teenager with rare eye condition accepted for clinical trial in China
An 18-year-old Maltese man with a rare condition in his eyes (LHON disease) has been accepted to take part in a clinical trial with 9 other patients in a hospital in Hubei Province in China.
This could be done because of an agreement that the National Alliance for the Support of Rare Diseases signed with the Chinese authorities with the help of the Chinese Embassy in Malta.
This was announced by Michelle Muscat, President of the National Alliance for the Support of Rare Diseases, at the launch of the Annual Campaign for Rare Disease Awareness for this year, in the Parliament building.
Muscat said that while no one should be filled with too much hope, this step is offering a glimpse of hope where there was no hope. This clinical trial includes the administration of a drug whose market price is approximately $850,000. The medicine will be given free of charge by the Chinese authorities to the Maltese patient through the agreement signed by the National Alliance for the Support of Rare Diseases.
Through this same agreement, therapy will be provided to patients who are members of the Alliance at the Mediterranean Centre for Traditional Chinese Medicine in Kordin, with a group of 24 people starting in the coming weeks.
Muscat said that this year's Rare Disease Awareness campaign will focus mostly on schools to convey information about these conditions and show the value of careers in medicine, science and research. To do this, the first book on rare diseases aimed at primary school students will also be launched.
The Alliance, Muscat continued, is pleased to note that in recent months the Government has started to take action and hopes that the NGO is invited in discussions on a National strategy on rare diseases. The Alliance looks forward to sitting around a table with the Government to discuss all this.
“There is a need for a strategy at both Maltese and European level, which serves to ensure that patients have access to the best treatment, care and research. At the same time, there is still a need for more awareness among those who make decisions about the importance of a holistic attitude, which can be measured according to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations”, emphasised Muscat.
The Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia also addressed the event, saying that the fact that despite Malta’s size as a country, those who are sick receive care for free. This, he said, shows how the Maltese people is a truly merciful one which takes care of the sick.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 15:07:00 +0000
Arnold Cassola testifies in MDA president’s libel case
Independent candidate Arnold Cassola today gave what he said were examples of how Malta Developers Association president Michael Stivala had benefited under the Labour administration during the tenure of Joseph Muscat.
Cassola was giving evidence before Magistrate Rachel Montebello in a libel case instituted against him by Stivala following social media posts Cassola had uploaded.
Stivala had publicly confirmed employing Muscat as a consultant, a few months after Muscat had resigned as prime minister.
Called to the witness stand, Cassola confirmed that he had uploaded the Facebook posts himself. Asked by defence lawyer Vince Galea to explain what he meant by the allegation that Stivala had “gifted various illegalities” to Muscat, Cassola replied that he would be giving a non-exhaustive list in his testimony, but would present a detailed affidavit before the next sitting.
The construction projects he mentioned included a multi storey ta’ Xbiex property built in 2016 on a buffer zone where high rise buildings could not legally be built.
Two years earlier, Stivala had applied to develop the interior of a 19th Century Grade 2 house in St Julian’s, near Barracuda, Cassola said. “This is a protected zone of the coast, as established in the local plan. The superintendence of cultural heritage had recommended that planning permission be refused… but through the usual interpretations or distortions of the law, the permit was approved… this all took place under Joseph Muscat’s premiership.”
Cassola added that the construction dust had been dumped in Balluta Bay, “turning the sea to cream,” and constituting another illegality.
The defendant also mentioned a private lido belonging to Stivala on the Gzira waterfront. “In 2015, Stivala had declared to Parliament that this private pool was owned by a consortium and couldn’t be divided up…Today we see advertisements for parts of it being divided between four hotels.”
“Stivala is continuing with the illegalities and is ignoring court orders,” Cassola said. Asked what made him say this, he explained that a judge had issued an order for Stivala to stop construction works in Ponsomby Street, Gzira, “but he has carried on.”
His testimony was suspended until the next sitting for Cassola to submit an affidavit together with supporting evidence.
Galea asked for the case to be dealt with without delay: “These allegations, which are still not clear, are causing enormous problems to Stivala’s business interests,” he said.
The case will continue in March.
Eve Borg Costanzi is representing Cassola in the proceedings.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 14:11:00 +0000
60-year-old grievously injured in traffic accident
A 60-year-old man suffered grievous injuries in a traffic accident on Tuesday morning, police said in a statement.
The police said that the accident happened in Vjal l-Avjazzjoni in Luqa at around 7:30am.
Preliminary investigations showed that the accident was between a Hyundai i20 being driven by a 61-year-old man from Safi and a Kymco motorcycle being ridden by the victim – a 60-year-old man from Zurrieq.
The motorcyclist was taken to Mater Dei Hospital, where he was certified as suffering from grievous injuries.
Police said that its investigations are still ongoing.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 14:10:00 +0000
Hunters’ association claims educators creating ‘social hatred’ against hunting
A hunters’ association which has been at the centre of a controversy following a financing it obtained from the Gozo Ministry to organise an exhibition in State schools is now claiming that educators have shown prejudice against “this part of our culture”.
Organisations such as BirdLife and the Malta Union of Teachers have expressed their disdain at the holding of the exhibition by the Kaccaturi San Ubertu.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister, the association, which claims to have close to 3,000 members, highlighted what it said was “discrimination against an informative and educational exhibition organized by us in schools about the traditional culture of sustainable hunting and live-capture which above all informs about the valuable work of the enthusiast in favour of the environment, what is good and what is bad and reprehensible.”
We received the funds from the Ministry for Gozo after a call for such purpose. Also the Minister of Education approved this initiative after the exhibition material, which we are attaching to this letter, was approved by the Minister of Education, the hunters said.
“The reaction to this exhibition according to public statements by BirdLife Malta, the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) and other entities clearly show the opposition of educators towards this part of our culture being conveyed to children and that it is being shunned in schools. This fact creates a prejudice and an orchestrated indoctrination in children who ultimately at the age of sixteen are entitled to vote on this culture,” the association contended.
“Such statements confirm without any doubt a clear indication of an institutionalized prejudice in our schools against any form of factual information about hunting and live-capture since Birdlife Malta took over environmental studies in 1994 and that our sector has been complaining about for years,” it told the PM.
“We believe that no one, even more so the educator, has the right to deny factual information or to condition minds according to a stated agenda. We also believe that like any other recognized legal sector, our education system should not discriminate or indoctrinate against our traditional culture of legal and sustainable hunting and live-capture through teaching entrusted to an organization that has a declared anti-hunting agenda.
“The environmental education of our children has for a long time been entrusted to the hands of BirdLife Malta who openly declare their opposition to hunting and live-capture and fail to distinguish or educate between EU endorsed legal and sustainable hunting and those illegal acts that even the sector condemns. This mentality is even reflected in certain exam questions through their environmental program Dinja Wahda in schools .
“This discrimination in schools resulted in years of indoctrination against hunting and live-capture which only resulted in social hatred against our sector and polarity in the Maltese public due to a campaign orchestrated to accommodate the agenda of an anti-hunting organization that now even openly rejects educational and factual information being made available to children.
“As parents and on behalf of other children who are being conditioned to oppose this culture, we appeal to your good sense of judgment and leadership by ensuring that every legal aspect of Maltese culture and tradition, including the culture of -hunt and find will no longer be excluded from our educational system in what is now a biased effort orchestrated to oppose it by those who are supposed to ensure an all inclusive education in our schools.
“We are confident that in this state of affairs, through your intervention, a substantial sector of society that practices or supports this legal and sustainable part of our traditional and sociocultural heritage will be given recognition in schools without the long-existing prejudice.”
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 13:46:00 +0000
PA takes direct action to remove illegal dumping below Mdina
The Planning Authority (PA) moved in this morning to remove large quantities of illegally dumped material on land between Mdina and Mtarfa, the PA said in a statement.
The site, within a scheduled Area of High Landscape Value protecting Mdina, covers an area of approximately 7,000m².
The extent and the considerable depth of the illegally dumped material remodelled the profile of this part of the valley, causing a negative impact on the sensitivity of the area. Although dumping at this site had ceased for several years, it restarted again following a transfer of land ownership. At this point, the PA was compelled to issue further enforcement notices, subjected to daily fines, instructing the contravener to remove the illegally dumped material.
The PA also took direct action to seal off the accesses to the site. In the meantime, the contravener had submitted a sanctioning application, seeking to obtain permission to retain the illegally dumped material on site. However, this application was refused by the Planning Authority, and an appeal from the refusal was dismissed by the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal.
Late in 2022, the contravener approached the PA expressing the intention to address the enforcement notices issued on the site. The PA agreed to a step-by-step process which ensured that the excessive illegal dumping is removed from the site by the contravener. However, instead of removing the material as agreed, over the past two weeks the contravener dumped further material on site.
Since the contravener ignored the Authority’s enforcement notices and warnings, the PA moved in to take direct action to remove the illegal dumping, at the full expense of the contravener. Truckloads of dumped material were carted away to licenced waste management sites. Good soil on site was transported to replenish existing agricultural land. Prior to the operation, the PA liaised with the Environment & Resources Authority (ERA) to ensure the proper disposal of the material. The PA’s Direct Action Team is being assisted by members of the Police Force.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 12:35:00 +0000
Children in armed conflict, climate change among Malta’s UN Security Council Presidency priorities
The use of children in armed conflicts is one of the main priority issues which will be brought up during Malta’s Presidency of the United Nations Security Council, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade Ian Borg announced.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Borg spoke of how Malta, starting from Wednesday 1 February, will hold the Presidency of the United Nations Security Council for the whole month.
He said that Malta will hold the same position in April 2024.
Delving further into the topic of the use of children in armed conflicts, Borg said that the aim is to seek ways in which these children can be protected. There will be specialised focus groups of children who have been given asylum in Malta, where they are going to be asked what their experience was together with ways in which they think such children should be assisted when they get out of the war zone.
“This is an important day where we are going to continue collectively promote international peace and prevent conflict,” the Minister said.
He added that the priorities to be discussed during the coming presidency revolve around many sectors, because “right now around the world there world there is a lot of conflict.”
Another topic which is going to be discussed is climate and oceans “on which Malta was the first to bring forward the topic with the UN back in the 1960s.”
He added that since then the topic has evolved, as now there is more material to work with, such as the rising sea levels across the world.
On the matter he said that this can become a threat to national security as new borders would need be discussed since the country’s territory would be changing.
Another theme that is on the agenda is women’s role in achieving peace and security.
Mentioning the war in Ukraine, the minister said that since events are always happening, change is always constant, “however the war is going to be given all the necessary and needed attention.”
“When you [Malta as a country] assume 97 per cent of all votes from the Security Council apart from the national interest, there is also the interest of the international community,” he said.
On the matter he said that Malta together with other UN members need to prioritise what is necessary for its “people and countries”, while also appealing that the Ukrainian war needs to change.
He said that the UN knows Malta’s direction for diplomacy and members have agreed to deliver accordingly.
On the 23 February, Malta will be present for the annual briefing between Europe and the UN, whilst the following day (24 February) which marks the first anniversary “since Russia decided to invade Ukraine”, there is going to be a discussion held on ways in which this war can be tackled efficiently.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 12:26:00 +0000
Watch: Minister Owen Bonnici defends €36,000 trip to Mexico
Culture Minister, Owen Bonnici, has defended the cost of a trip that he and two members of staff had taken to Mexico last year.
The total cost of the flights was €32,790, while the accommodation had amounted to €3,201.
The UNESCO World Conference on Culture Policies and Sustainable Development, called Mondiacult 2022, occurred between the 28th and the 30th of September 2022. The dates for the Maltese delegations's trip were the 26th of September till the 2nd of October, and the delegates who attended were the minister, the permanent secretary and one member of the secretariat staff. The minister and one of the secretariat staff, however, had only attended between the 26th and the 30th of September.
When asked to justify this expenditure, Bonnici said that the Ministry of Culture has a responsibility to participate in major cultural events, including the UNESCO meeting in Mexico.
He said that Malta was invited to participate in the UNESCO world event, "where top delegates, ministers from nearly every country in the world attended."
The Minister said that, undoubtedly, if he had elected to not attend the meeting, then the headline news would have been that Malta was the only country of the region to not have attended.
He said that the choice of site by UNESCO meant that they had to cross several continents, "but the flight was one that attracted this kind of expenditure." But he believes that Malta had to attend.
He further stated that, when it comes to matters of procurement, the government is careful to always get a good deal, and is also careful when it comes to expenses.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 12:25:00 +0000
Repubblika appeals latest Pilatus case setback, says they will take the matter to Europe if need be
The NGO Repubblika has filed an appeal against the latest decision to allow Magistrate Nadine Lia to continue to hear its challenge proceedings against Pilatus Bank officials, while insisting that it will take the matter up with European courts if they do not get their way.
In a press conference outside the law courts on Tuesday, Repubblika President Robert Aquilina said that the NGO is appealing the latest decision on the challenge case it had filed on Pilatus Bank after the First Hall rejected their claim that their right to a fair hearing had been breached by Magistrate Nadine Lia’s refusal recuse herself on the case.
In her decision on the constitutional case to get Magistrate Nadine Lia off Repubblika’s case a week and a half ago, Madam Justice Audrey Demicoli noted that the case could lead to criminal proceedings against third parties and not Repubblika itself. “Therefore, there is no breach of the group’s right to a fair hearing … [because] effectively, it will not lead to the group being placed in a worse or more advantageous position to that which it is in today.”
The challenge case against the Police Commissioner was filed by Repubblika in July accusing the police of not prosecuting Pilatus Bank officials despite the conclusions of a magisterial inquiry.’
The case was originally assigned to Magistrate Nadine Lia. Repubblika had asked that she recuse herself in view of her family ties to lawyer Pawlu Lia, who was former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's lawyer.
The magistrate refused to do so, which led to the filing of a constitutional case asking for her to be removed from the case.
He continued by saying that the NGO has since June been fighting for a fair hearing in the case since June, as it sought to remove Magistrate Nadine Lia from hearing the case.
However, after their latest appeal was shot down by the courts – which ruled that Repubblika did not have victim status in the case and could not argue that it was not getting a fair hearing – Aquilina said that while the law allows the right for a challenge to be filed, it does not seem to allow the right for them to have a fair hearing.
“The court decided this because we aren’t filing a case to win some money, but in the public interest,” Aquilina said, adding that the decision goes against the most basic principles of natural justice and against logic.
He said that the NGO is convinced that they are right, which is why they are appealing the decision, quoting a number of European Court of Human Rights sentences which confirm their stance.
“Since June we have been going on this and not a single minute has been used to treat the merits of the case. This is only the latest obstacle in a long list, and none of them will make us give up,” he said.
Aquilina said that Repubblika is determined to use all the remedies at its disposal, both locally and overseas, and said that they are committed to taking the case before the European Court of Human Rights if they do not get their way in the Maltese courts.
This legal battle, he said, constitutes a significant financial expense even though the NGO is getting legal representation for free from former PN MP Jason Azzopardi, whom he thanked for his services.
“We are turning to the people for help. We are fighting a system of power with limitless funds. We are doing this for the people not for ourselves, which is why so we are turning to the public to help us through a crowdfunding campaign,” he said.
Aquilina said that the NGO is looking to raise €6,000, and added that people can donate at the following website: repubblika.mt/crowdfund
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 10:35:00 +0000
Church school admissions: Applications for ‘other applicants’ open Wednesday
Applications for ‘Other Applicants’ for admission to Church schools in Malta and Gozo for the scholastic year commencing in September 2023, will be accepted online as from tomorrow, Wednesday 1 February 2023.
There are a total of 933 vacant places for students (858 in Malta and 75 in Gozo). Detailed information about the places offered, the criteria and the documentation required are available in the regulations published last November on www.church.mt. Recently, the circulars indicating the number of places occupied by first criteria applicants were published.
The Church schools admission process in Malta determines admission to first year and second year kindergarten, first year primary, fourth year primary for girls and first year secondary. Applications will be accepted at church.mt/applications from 1 to 14 February and from 22 to 28 February 2023. More information may be obtained by calling on 79990224, 79515491 or 77865241 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Admission to Church Schools in Gozo will be in first year kindergarten and first year secondary. Applications will be accepted online at church.mt/gozoapplications from 1st until 14th February 2023. More information may be obtained by calling on 79990271 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information regarding the applications, kindly check the circulars and regulations published on www.church.mt.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 09:44:00 +0000
No foul play: Man found injured in Ghaxaq block of flats fell down the stairs
The man who was found seriously injured in a block of flats “most likely” fell down the stairs, the police said Tuesday.
The man, aged 45, was found in a block of apartments in Merill Street at 5.15am on Monday.
In a statement Tuesday, the police said that there was no foul play.
The man remains in a serious condition in hospital.
A magisterial inquiry is underway.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 09:40:00 +0000
Global report highlights link between corruption, violence
Most of the world continues to fail to fight corruption with 95 % of countries having made little to no progress since 2017, a closely watched study by an anti-graft organization found Tuesday.
Transparency International’s 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index, which measures the perception of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople, also found that governments hampered by corruption lack the capacity to protect the people, while public discontent is more likely to turn into violence.
“Corruption has made our world a more dangerous place. As governments have collectively failed to make progress against it, they fuel the current rise in violence and conflict – and endanger people everywhere," said Delia Ferreira Rubio, the chairperson of Transparency International.
“The only way out is for states to do the hard work, rooting out corruption at all levels to ensure governments work for all people, not just an elite few,” she added.
The report ranks countries on a scale from a “highly corrupt” 0 to a “very clean” 100. Denmark is seen as the least corrupt this year with 90 points, and Finland and New Zealand both follow closely at 87. Strong democratic institutions and regard for human rights also make these countries some of the most peaceful in the world, the report said.
However, the report also shows that while western Europe remains the top-scoring region, some of its countries are showing worrying signs of decline.
The United Kingdom dropped five points to 73 — its lowest ever score. The report said a number of scandals from public spending to lobbying, as well as revelations of ministerial misconduct, have highlighted woeful inadequacies in the country’s political integrity systems. Public trust in politics is also worryingly low, it said.
Countries like Switzerland, at 82, and the Netherlands, which scored 80 points, are showing signs of decline amidst concerns over weak integrity and lobbying regulations — even though their scores remain high in comparison to the rest of the world.
In eastern Europe corruption is seen as remaining rampant as many countries reached historic lows.
Russia in particular was highlighted as a glaring example of corruption's impact on peace and stability.
The country's invasion of Ukraine almost a year ago was a stark reminder of the threat that corruption and the absence of government accountability pose for global peace and security, the report said. It added that kleptocrats in Russia, which is at 28 points, have amassed great fortunes by pledging loyalty to President Vladimir Putin in exchange for profitable government contracts and protection of their economic interests.
“The absence of any checks on Putin’s power allowed him to pursue his geopolitical ambitions with impunity,” the report concluded. “This attack destabilized the European continent, threatening democracy, and has killed tens of thousands.”
Before the invasion, Ukraine, which scored 33 points, had a low score but was undertaking important reforms and steadily improving. Even after the outbreak of the war, the country continued to prioritize anti-corruption reforms. However, wars disrupt normal processes and exacerbate risks, the report pointed out, allowing corrupt actors to pocket funds meant for recovery. Earlier this month investigations exposed alleged war profiteering by several senior officials.
The index rated 180 countries and territories. Somalia was at the bottom with 12 points; South Sudan tied with Syria for second-to-last with 13.
Only eight countries improved last year, among them Ireland with 77 points, South Korea with 63, Armenia at 46, and Angola at 33.
The report also pointed out how after decades of conflict, South Sudan is in a major humanitarian crisis with more than half of the population facing acute food insecurity — and corruption is exacerbating the situation.
In Yemen, at 16, where complaints of corruption helped spark civil war eight years ago, the report said that the state has collapsed, leaving two-thirds of the population without sufficient food in what has become one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.
Compiled since 1995, the index is calculated using 13 different data sources that provide perceptions of public sector corruption from businesspeople and country experts. Sources include the World Bank, the World Economic Forum and private risk and consulting companies.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 09:09:00 +0000
Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet
Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday: It’s delivering its final 747 jumbo jet.
Since its first flight in 1969, the giant yet graceful 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, a transport for NASA's space shuttles, and the Air Force One presidential aircraft. It revolutionized travel, connecting international cities that had never before had direct routes and helping democratize passenger flight.
But over about the past 15 years, Boeing and its European rival Airbus have introduced more profitable and fuel efficient wide-body planes, with only two engines to maintain instead of the 747′s four. The final plane is the 1,574th built by Boeing in the Puget Sound region of Washington state.
A big crowd of current and former Boeing workers is expected for the final send-off. The last one is being delivered to cargo carrier Atlas Air.
“If you love this business, you’ve been dreading this moment,” said longtime aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia. “Nobody wants a four-engine airliner anymore, but that doesn’t erase the tremendous contribution the aircraft made to the development of the industry or its remarkable legacy.”
Boeing set out to build the 747 after losing a contract for a huge military transport, the C-5A. The idea was to take advantage of the new engines developed for the transport — high-bypass turbofan engines, which burned less fuel by passing air around the engine core, enabling a farther flight range — and to use them for a newly imagined civilian aircraft.
It took more than 50,000 Boeing workers less than 16 months to churn out the first 747 — a Herculean effort that earned them the nickname “The Incredibles.” The jumbo jet's production required the construction of a massive factory in Everett, north of Seattle — the world's largest building by volume.
The plane's fuselage was 225 feet (68.5 meters) long and the tail stood as tall as a six-story building. The plane’s design included a second deck extending from the cockpit back over the first third of the plane, giving it a distinctive hump and inspiring a nickname, the Whale. More romantically, the 747 became known as the Queen of the Skies.
Some airlines turned the second deck into a first-class cocktail lounge, while even the lower deck sometimes featured lounges or even a piano bar.
“It was the first big carrier, the first widebody, so it set a new standard for airlines to figure out what to do with it, and how to fill it,” said Guillaume de Syon, a history professor at Pennsylvania’s Albright College who specializes in aviation and mobility. “It became the essence of mass air travel: You couldn’t fill it with people paying full price, so you need to lower prices to get people onboard. It contributed to what happened in the late 1970s with the deregulation of air travel.”
The first 747 entered service in 1970 on Pan Am's New York-London route, and its timing was terrible, Aboulafia said. It debuted shortly before the oil crisis of 1973, amid a recession that saw Boeing's employment fall from 100,800 employees in 1967 to a low of 38,690 in April 1971. The “Boeing bust” was infamously marked by a billboard near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport that read, “Will the last person leaving SEATTLE -- Turn out the lights.”
An updated model — the 747-400 series — arrived in the late 1980s and had much better timing, coinciding with the Asian economic boom of the early 1990s, Aboulafia said. He recalled taking a Cathay Pacific 747 from Los Angeles to Hong Kong as a twentysomething backpacker in 1991.
“Even people like me could go see Asia,” Aboulafia said. “Before, you had to stop for fuel in Alaska or Hawaii and it cost a lot more. This was a straight shot — and reasonably priced.”
Delta was the last U.S. airline to use the 747 for passenger flights, which ended in 2017, although some other international carriers continue to fly it, including the German airline Lufthansa.
Atlas Air ordered four 747-8 freighters early last year, with the final one leaving the factory Tuesday.
Boeing’s roots are in the Seattle area, and it has assembly plants in Washington state and South Carolina. The company announced in May that it would move its headquarters from Chicago to Arlington, Virginia, putting its executives closer to key federal government officials and the Federal Aviation Administration, which certifies Boeing passenger and cargo planes.
Boeing’s relationship with the FAA has been strained since deadly crashes of its best-selling plane, the 737 Max, in 2018 and 2019. The FAA took nearly two years — far longer than Boeing expected — to approve design changes and allow the plane back in the air.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 07:41:00 +0000
Woman grievously injured after being hit by car
A woman was grievously injured on Monday evening when she was hit by a car in Balzan, the police said.
The accident took place in Idmejda Street at 7.45pm.
The woman, a 30-year-old from Lithuania who resides in Attard, was hit by a Nissa Qashqai driven by a 38-year-old man, also of Attard.
She was taken to hospital with grievous injuries.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 07:39:00 +0000
Peter Agius approved as PN candidate for EP election
Peter Agius has become the first candidate to be approved by the Nationalist Party for next year’s European Parliament election.
The approval was given on Monday night by the party’s executive committee. Agius joins Roberta Metsola and David Casa who, as MEPs, are automatically candidates for the May 2024 election as per party statute.
In a post on Facebook, Agius thanked the executive for “unanimously” approving his nomination, as well as his family for their support.
Agius, a senior EU official and former Head of European Parliament Office in Malta, has vouched new energy in representation of Maltese interests in Europe.
“It will soon be 20 years since we joined the EU. The Union has changed dramatically since then. It is now time to renew our collective ambition to make the best of EU membership,” he said in comments to The Malta Independent.
“We must do better in attracting EU opportunities to Malta and ensuring that these reach all sectors of society. We must also see to a more efficient representation of Maltese needs in EU decision making which is all too often shaped on different needs other than those pertaining to Maltese workers and businesses,” he said.
“I am ready to use my experience in EU institutions tempered with the regular contact with people across Maltese society. The forthcoming MEP elections are an opportunity for our country to choose the best representatives to pitch Malta’s case in Brussels.
“All too often, EU rules are being moulded without an island dimension, setting us off at a disadvantage. This we have seen also recently with EU transport, environmental and food production rules. I will keep on striving to take the voices of Maltese sectors of society to the decision-making table in Brussels. This I have done already as a political activist for the past 4 years on a myriad of issues. I can do it with trebled efficiency as an MEP representing the interests of Maltese and Gozitan sectors of society,” he added.
Agius was a cabinet member of EP President Antonio Tajani, and was PN candidate in 2019 where he garnered close to 11,000 first preference votes in a blitz campaign focusing on bread and butter issues.
Notwithstanding not being elected as MEP, Agius’s political commitment continued after election. He was particularly active with initiatives on consumer protection, EU funding, EU opportunities for youths, transport and connectivity, Gozo and food production. Agius was also appointed as PN representative in the European People’s Party in 2000 and then as PN spokesperson last year.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 07:35:00 +0000
Malta drops to 54th place on Corruption Perceptions Index, same rank as Saudi Arabia, Rwanda
Malta dropped a few rankings on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) from last year.
The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
For the year 2021, Malta had a score of 54, ranking the country in 49th place out of 180 countries.
In this year's release index, which is for the year 2022, Malta's score was 51, and the country dropped in the rankings to 54th place.
Two other countries are also in 54th place - Saudi Arabia and Rwanda.
The index read the following about Malta: "Malta (score of 51) continues its downward CPI trend. Recommendations from the public inquiry into the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia are yet to be implemented in legislation, with continued concerns for media freedom and political interference in public media and for the fight against organised crime. A state of impunity persists with no convictions in cases of high-level corruption. Greater independence and resourcing of the Maltese justice system is needed to uphold the rule of law."
In terms of Malta's region - 'Western Europe & EU', Transparency International says: "with an average score of 66 out of 100, Western Europe and the European Union (EU) is once again the top-scoring region in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)." However, "progress has stagnated in the majority of countries for more than a decade. Across Western Europe and the EU, the changing security landscape since Russia's fullscale invasion of Ukraine and a looming recession both demand robust responses from governments. However, undue influence over decision-making, poor enforcement of integrity safeguards and threats to the rule of law are undermining governments' effectiveness. The region is at a crossroads. To overcome the current crises and deliver progress for the people, decision-makers need to go beyond piecemeal anti-corruption measures."
"The 2022 CPI reveals that anti-corruption efforts have stagnated in more than half of countries for more than a decade. Out of 31 countries in the region, only six have improved their scores while seven have declined. Top scorers in 2022 were Denmark (CPI score: 90), Finland (87) and Norway (84). Worst performers were again Romania (46), Bulgaria (43) and Hungary (42). Ten countries have recorded their lowest-ever scores, including United Kingdom (73), which has dropped five points since last year."
The countries ranked lower than Malta in the EU are Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.
As for the wider world, the CPI global average remains unchanged at 43 for the eleventh year in a row, and more than two-thirds of countries have a serious problem with corruption, scoring below 50.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 06:02:00 +0000
Malta hit by another tremor measuring 5.2 on Richter scale
Another earthquake was felt in Malta on Monday evening, with many this time taking to social media to state that it was the strongest and longest yet across a spate of tremors in the past weeks.
The University of Malta’s seismic centre reported that the earthquake measured 5.2 on the Richter Scale, and that its epicentre was located in the sea around 113 kilometres south of Malta and at a depth of 10 kilometres.
Scores of people living in pretty much all localities on the island shared on social media that they had felt the tremor.
It is the 15th tremor in around three weeks, all of which have been in a largely similar area of sea to the south of Malta.
No damage related to any of the earthquakes has been reported, and experts have said that the heightened seismic activity is not a rare phenomenon and is nothing to be worried about.
Mon, 30 Jan 2023 21:17:00 +0000
Court decision on hospitals concession deferred to 24 February
A court decision on the case regarding the Steward Health Care concession to run three hospitals in Malta and Gozo has been deferred to 24 February.
A decision as initially expected to be handed down on Tuesday morning, but in a decree on Monday Judge Francesco Depasquale said that due to the complexity of the case, the court needed more time in order to finalise its decision.
PN MP Adrian Delia (when he was the Opposition leader) in 2018 had filed a case asking the courts to declare the agreement between the government of Malta and Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) – since then superseded by Steward Health Care – null and void, arguing that the concessionaire had failed to adhere to obligations laid down in the contract.
VGH had been granted the hospitals concession in 2015. Steward Health Care had replaced VGH after the former took over the concession, thus taking over the running of St Luke’s hospital, Karin Grech hospital and Gozo General Hospital in 2018.
The original concessionaire, Vitals Global Healthcare, had been quite controversial. The National Audit Office, in a statement about an audit report it published in 2021 regarding the concession awarded to Vitals Global Healthcare by government, had said: “None of the major concession milestones were achieved when the concession was under the VGH’s control. The VGH’s inability to secure financing was the crucial shortcoming on which rested all subsequent failures registered in this concession by government.”
The existence of a 2019 side letter had been revealed by MaltaToday, that turned any termination of the concession into a government default, and could result in government having to pay €100m to the company in such a case.
Prime Minister Robert Abela had said, back in 2021 when asked about the €100m, that if Steward were to choose to leave the concession, “the government will do everything legally possible to avoid paying that amount”. He had said he got to know about this 2019 agreement only after it had been signed.
Mon, 30 Jan 2023 19:55:00 +0000
Anti-deadlock bill for appointment of Standards Commissioner voted into law
The Bill to introduce an anti-deadlock mechanism for the appointment of the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life has been enacted into law after a final vote in Parliament on Monday evening.
The vote on the third and final reading of the bill was carried out at the end of Monday’s sitting.
The bill passed with 41 votes in favour and 35 against.
The first reading of the bill was presented in parliament on 19 December by Prime Minister Robert Abela. The bill was published in the Government Gazette on 27 December.
The Bill is amending the Standards in Public Life Act, meaning that the change would only affect appointments for this post and no other instances where a two-thirds majority is required.
The post of standards commissioner was set up in 2018 with the role of investigating claims of ethical breaches by MPs and persons of trust.
Currently, for the standards commissioner to be appointed there needs to be a two-thirds majority vote in parliament.
But the two sides of the House have not come to terms on the new appointee after George Hyzler was appointed as Malta's representative on the European Court of Auditors, leaving the Standards Commissioner seat vacant.
The government had proposed former Chief Justice Joseph Azzopardi, but the Opposition was not in agreement.
The new proposed mechanism lays down that the Standards Commissioner should be nominated with the support of both sides of the house, but in the event that the required two-thirds majority is not reached, then the appointment is made via a simple majority.
Abela justified the mechanism by saying that it was what the Venice Commission had proposed and that former PN leader Simon Busuttil himself had proposed it in a governance paper back in 2015.
Mon, 30 Jan 2023 19:18:00 +0000
Updated (2): Man found dead with 'visible head wounds' in Ghasri
A man has been found dead in Ghasri this morning, the police said.
The man, aged 60, of Victoria, was found dead in a private driveway in Triq il-Knisja at 10.30am.
The man was later reportedly identified as Michael Meilak.
The police said that the man had "visible wounds" to the head.
The police said that the man was given first assistance by a medical team but was certified dead on site.
The police said that an autopsy will be carried out to establish the cause of death.
Magistrate Brigitte Sultana is leading an inquiry.
Mon, 30 Jan 2023 14:48:00 +0000
Chamber of Advocates says PM contact with magistrate not permitted by code of ethics
The Chamber of Advocates said Monday that any contact between the Prime Minister and a magistrate went against the code of ethics that members of the judiciary had to follow, unless permission was given by the Chief Justice.
The chamber was referring to what Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Sunday, that he had talked about sentencing policies with a magistrate.
In a statement, the chamber expressed its disappointment at the declaration made by PM Abela. The courts of law have no remit to pass any message to anyone, but only act through judgments they give out with independence and impartiality by applying the law.
The chamber said that generalisation about court procedures and sentencing, with a profound analysis of evidence brought before the courts, are “superficial evaluations”.
It is not the courts’ role to send any messages to society; it is up to politicians to work on laws to send such a message, with judges and magistrates then responsible of applying them in practice.
The chamber also referred to what the Prime Minister said about MPs who say one thing in court and do another when they are representing their political party. The chamber said that when a lawyer voluntarily takes on a political role then he or she must be ready to be criticised. But there should be a distinction between the profession of a lawyer and that of a politician.
As a lawyer, he or she must provide their clients with the best possible defence, whereas as a politician her or she are free to express their opinion that goes beyond what is required of his or her professional duties, and should not limit them from carrying out such duties.
Referring to Abela’s meeting with a magistrate, the chamber said that such meetings are not permitted by the code of ethics members of the judiciary unless they are specifically approved by the Chief Justice. This is a basic principle that should always be respected.
The chamber said that it took the opportunity to say that while it acknowledged that there is an effort for the courts to be provided with the necessary resources to work at a faster pace there is a need for an update of the “judicial eco-system” and the legal profession so as to make it more efficient.
It urged the holding of discussions to formulate a plan on the way forward on matters such as the laws regarding legal procedures, judicial and administrative recourses and the reform of the legal profession.
Mon, 30 Jan 2023 14:05:00 +0000
'Where are TVM? I want to be famous', Jeremie Camilleri told police after Pelin Kaya murder
The man accused of killing a young woman by intentionally running her over in the street asked where the TVM cameras were and described himself as a psychopath during his arrest.
“Where is TVM? I want to be famous,” were the words of Jeremie Camilleri to the police officers arresting him. Camilleri is accused of the murder of Kaya Pelin whom he mowed down in his mother’s BMW X6 in Gzira on 18 January - the day of Pelin’s 30th birthday.
Several police officers gave evidence this morning, as the compilation of evidence against Camilleri started before Magistrate Rachel Montebello.
They described arriving at a scene of “complete chaos,” finding the BMW lodged in the facade of the Gzira KFC outlet, debris and rubble strewn all over the area.
They described the accused’s demeanour as aggressive, adding that he was shouting “watch me fight the police,” to onlookers. Although officers instructed him to calm down, Camilleri had to be subdued with a taser. Even after his arrest, he continued to threaten officers, telling them he would “find them.”
Police Homicide Squad Inspector Kurt Zahra told the court that CCTV had captured the incident in full. The footage shows Camilleri crossing the road after running the woman over, picking up debris and broken bricks and throwing them at the victim as she was face down on the ground. He is also seen punching and throwing debris at bystanders, one of whom then punches back and knocks Camilleri to the ground.
CCTV cameras from the surrounding areas showed that Camilleri’s car had not been travelling at great speed before the incident, Zahra said.
13:39 That concludes today’s sitting. Thanks for following.
13:36 The atmosphere is one of crushing sadness.
13:33 As Camilleri is led out of the courtroom, a female family member tells him "burn in hell." A male relative is gripped tightly by family members to stop him from attacking the accused. Pelin's mother then faints.
13:29 The court says that if the inquiry is concluded before the next sitting, it can be exhibited. The case was adjourned to 9 Feb at 11:15am.
13:28 The prosecution is discussing whether or not it should summon further eyewitnesses or exhibit the acts of the magisterial inquiry.
13:27 Abela says that no bail request would be made at this stage.
13:26 10 minutes after his arrest, the accused continued to act strangely, confirmed the witness. Inspector Kurt Zahra informs the court that the officer was the final witness for today.
13:25 Defence lawyer Alfred Abela cross-examines the witness. He asks what language the letter of rights read to the accused was in. "I don't remember."
13:24 A crowd of bystanders had gathered, he said. They were agitated by what they had seen. District police officers were speaking to them.. "They were visibly panicked."
13:23 "While waiting for the ambulance, Camilleri was asking where TVM were because he wanted to be famous. He also told me that his teeth were very sharp. While we were inside the ambulance, he told me that he was memorising my face so he could come find me after."
13:20 Another RIU police officer takes the stand - the sergeant in charge.
13:18 "It's not normal for a person to approach me shouting 'watch me fight the police'. He entered my personal space, less than a metre away."
13:18 To protests from the prosecution bench, Abela asked the witness again, repeatedly using the words 'not normal' in his questions. Ghaznavi asks the witness what he means by "not normal."
13:16 Cross-examined by Alfred Abela, the witness is asked about the accused's behaviour, telling him that the previous witness had said he wasn't normal. "I saw a very aggressive person who wanted to hurt people."
13:15 When Camilleri said 'let me fight the police' the witness had still been in the police car, he said. The RIU SUV, he clarifies.
13:14 Under cross-examination by Ghaznavi, the officer says that when the accused had entered his personal space, he had told him to relax.
13:13 Bonnett asks about the bystanders. "It seems that before he was arrested, he had attacked some of them," he said.
13:12 He explains that the police had to take down the suspect first as he was a threat, before turning their attention to the victim. "Even though I knew she was probably dead, I did everything I could to help her."
13:10 The accused told the officer that he had consumed cocaine and marijuana, when asked whether he was under the influence. The officers informed the accused of his rights and he was taken to Mater Dei Hospital.
13:10 "When he was on the ground he started shouting 'where is TVM? I want to be famous." Camilleri also shouted "I'm a psychopath and I'm proud of it," recalled the officer.
13:09 After being handcuffed, the accused had told the police that he had been driving the BMW that crashed into the KFC restaurant. "He told us that the BMW PSG was his and started going on about 'PSG, PSG'."
13:08 “When he came within striking distance, he pulled his arm back and balled a fist, telling us 'come, come'. I had to use the taser gun to carry out the arrest. That was the minimal amount of force we could use."
13:08 “I gave him the order to calm down, I told him "ey, relax", but he kept coming forward. I gave him the order, shouting 'on your knees', but he did not comply.”
13:07 "As soon as I stopped the car he started walking towards us, opening his arms and inviting us to fight." Watch me fight the police' and telling us 'come, come'."
13:06 The police had received a description that the accused was dressed in black. "He started opening his hands and saying 'watch me fight the police'. I clearly remember that the place was like seeing a field full of sheep, wherever he [Camilleri] moved, the crowd moved away as a group."
13:04 The officer testifies to having been told by one of the fearful bystanders to "be careful" (mohhkom hemm) as the man was aggressive. He remembers seeing a lot of bystanders.
13:02 The next witness takes the stand. He is an RIU officer.
13:01 "He was acting very abnormally. A normal person does not behave that way."
13:01 The witness is cross-examined by defence lawyer Alfred Abela. “What did you see before the accused was arrested?”
13:01 "We didn't ask him any questions, he started talking on his own."
13:00 Asked by Ghaznavi what the accused's words were. "Where are TVM z***i u nejk, I want to be famous." Those were his precise words, said the officer.
13:00 The court asks the witness how he had addressed the accused. "I addressed him by name. I told him his rights, and my sergeant also read him his rights after me.”
12:59 Bonnett asks him about the tasering: "We told him [to calm down] several times. Once, twice, three times, he carried on showing off until he was tasered. Even after being handcuffed he continued to threaten us, telling us that he'd come and find us. I wanted him to calm down so we didn't have to restrain him. He came very close.”
12:58 "Everyone was afraid of him... bricks everywhere.... I told my colleague in the car to be careful about the debris," he says.
12:54 "The ambulance crew tried tried tried, but it was for nothing. It appeared that she had already left us," he said, fighting back tears. There bystanders were afraid of the accused, telling the police that he had assaulted them, he recalled. Answering a question from the court he said the man had only seen Camilleri acting aggressively towards the police.
12:52 The victim's face was covered in blood, "I didn't even know if it was a man or a woman at first."
12:51 "He threatened us,” saying 'I will find you when I get out,' "where is TVM, z***i u nejk", boasting that he had just killed a person and would be famous."
12:50 The witness's voice breaks with emotion as he describes trying to help the ambulance crew. "But it was for nothing," he said after composing himself.
12:50 "I know that the car was a BMW and the numberplate started with PSG, because the accused was repeatedly shouting 'Paris San German'. He wanted to fight us, but we acted professionally and took him into custody."
12:48 Camilleri was telling bystanders "watch me fight the police" he said. While taking a boxing stance. He was then tasered and taken into custody.
12:47 "When we were on the way we were informed by control room that there was likely a fatality and that someone was throwing bricks." The scene was "complete chaos" ("kjass shih") he said.
12:47 An RIU officer takes the stand next. He is asked what his involvement in the incident was. "We received a call from the control room about a MVA at KFC near Paul and Rocco.”
12:46 Witnesses told the police that the accused was uttering those words as he was throwing stones at Pelin as she lay unconscious on the ground.
12:46 "The accused was acting aggressively and was swearing at them and the victim, telling her 'f*** you'."
12:45 Lawyer Shazoo Ghaznavi cross-examines the inspector. He asks about the pelting with stones. Where did that emerge from? "It emerges from eyewitnesses who testified in the inquiry as well as from CCTV footage which shows him doing so."
12:45 The victim and the suspect were coming from different places when they encountered each other. The only place where the two interacted was when Camilleri ran Pelin over, killing her.
12:40 The best friend accompanied Pelin back home after her birthday party.
12:40 The victim's best friend told the inspector that as far as she was aware, Pelin did not know him.
12:39 Inspector Zahra had inquired whether the victim had any relationship with the accused.
12:39 "I showed him footage from KFC, which shows the victim, face down on the ground unconscious and the accused enters the frame fighting with bystanders before starting to throw stones at her," the inspector says. Camilleri did not answer questions about this.
12:38 Camilleri's mother was questioned by the police. She chose not to answer many of the questions, said the inspector, but she confirmed that the BMW was used by the accused. Camilleri asked for lawyer Alfred Abela, who was present for his interrogation together with lawyer Rene Darmanin.
12:36 The inspector tells the court that Camilleri's mobile phone was retrieved from his home in Lija.
12:35 With that certificate in hand, the police could begin questioning the suspect, he said. Camilleri was questioned at police HQ and then taken to his residence to be present for the police search.
12:34 The accused had been taken to Mater Dei Hospital and at 11:45am had been certified as being fit for interrogation.
12:33 "As soon as he was arrested, he says the same thing that he had said to his girlfriend." Camilleri had erased the voice note, but the investigators had succeeded in retrieving it.
12:32 Bodycam footage from the arresting police officers showed him asking them to bring TVM onsite, the inspector says.
12:31 Camilleri had met with his girlfriend before the incident and had an argument. One hour before the incident, he had sent her a voice message saying that he was a "psychopath" and "a proud criminal" and telling her that the next day he will be on the news.
12:30 When Camilleri was admitted to hospital, he made certain assertions that were of interest, says the inspector. "Jeremy Camilleri told the doctor that he wanted to hurt someone"
12:30 Magistrate Nadine Lia carried out the magisterial inquiry, and authorised the police to communicate with the experts who participated in the inquiry.
12:28 The accused wears a weary expression as the interpreter translates what is being said.
12:27 His BMW is registered to Camilleri's mother. The speeding fines were settled by her shortly after being issued.
12:26 He is then captured on the Birkirkara bypass speed camera. He was doing 75.8km/hr in a 60km/hr zone says the inspector. Other cameras in Gzira and in Msida also captured him driving at a moderate speed.
12:26 Besides gathering the CCTV footage, the police went to Camilleri's residence in Lija. CCTV footage from there was also seized. He is seen leaving around eight minutes before the murder.
12:25 When this happened, Camilleri is seen cross the road again, pick up rocks, both big and small and start throwing them at the victim and the bystanders. One of the bystanders is seen to be hit in the back, the inspector says.
12:24 "Subsequently we see Jeremy Camilleri, the accused, exit this BMW and attacking bystanders." Camilleri crossed the road after getting out of the car to attack the bystanders. One of the pedestrians punched Camilleri back and knocked him to the ground.
12:22 The inspector explains the layout of the surrounding streets. Pelin was walking from Triq l-Imsida towards Sliema. "While she was on the pavement... we see the BMW change direction and run Kaya Pelin over and smash into other things."
12:21 The police gathered CCTV footage from nearby shops and noticed that around 1:05am Camilleri's BMW was captured travelling towards Testaferrata Street from Sliema. "The speed seemed moderate. The road is straight."
12:21 When the police arrived, Camilleri did not comply with their orders and had to be tazered.
12:19 The witnesses told us that Camilleri was swearing at the victim and when the RIU and paramedics arrived he started shouting: "Watch me fight the police".
12:17 The inspector says that all of the witnesses he mentioned had given sworn accounts to the inquiring magistrates, some also filmed the accused, as he pelted Pelin Kaya, face down on the ground, with stones.
12:15 A third eyewitness, a female, was also dealt a blow to her head by the accused. She later filed a report at the Msida police station.
12:15 Another eyewitness who works in a nearby shop had also been assaulted by the accused and knocked out. When he regained consciousness, he closed the shutter and went to the health centre for treatment.
12:14 The inspector appeals to the court to order the press not to publish the names of the individuals being named.
12:13 A driver who was going to fill his petrol tank at the Paul and Rocco station, told the police that he had seen the BMW crash into the KFC. He hadn't noticed anyone getting run over, but said that the BMW driver had tried to assault him as he sat in his car, damaging it.
12:11 While he was on the way to meet her, he met the first responders who had blocked off the road. He told them that his girlfriend was not answering her phone. He was asked to call her again and the mobile phone that was on the ground beside the victim had started to ring, the inspector said.
12:09 Police spoke to eyewitnesses. Kaya was subsequently identified by her boyfriend, who had arrived in Malta just hours before to celebrate her birthday with her.
12:09 The jacket and other items indicated the place where the victim had been thrown by the impact.
12:08 He noticed a jacket, mobile phone and packet of cigarettes lying in the road. "These were important because they later turned out to belong to the victim."
12:07 Scene of Crime Officers arrived and photographed the scene as evidence.
12:07 Zahra: "I realised that everything that everything had taken place in Triq l-Imsida [not Testaferrata].” He also noticed sneakers which belonged to the victim, who was still unidentified at the time.
12:06 At the scene: "I observed a BMW X6 that had its front portion inside KFC. Some of the vehicle was on the railing. Glass and rubble displaced by the crash were next to it."
12:05 Emergency responders had informed him that the woman was unconscious and in danger of dying. The driver was arrested by the Rapid Intervention Unit.
12:04 Zahra says he had been informed of a traffic incident in Testaferrata Street at around 1:05am on 18 Jan, which left a woman in danger of death. The initial report stated that the driver had also emerged from the vehicle and thrown stones and the victim and bystanders.
12:02 Police Inspector Kurt Zahra from the Homicide Squad takes the stand.
12:02 The family's right to an interpreter emerges from the Victims of Crime Act.
12:01 The interpreter is administered the oath.
12:00 The court asks whether the parte civile require an interpreter. Ghaznavi says they do.
12:00 He explains that he understands Maltese, but doesn't speak it. The court dictates a note appointing an interpreter.
12:00 The court asks the accused whether he understands English. "Perfectly," he says.
11:59 During the arraignment, the accused was assisted by an interpreter.
11:59 The court is tackling the issue of what language proceedings should be in. The accused understands only fragments of Maltese, defence lawyer Alfred Abela says.
11:59 Lawyer Shazoo Ghaznavi is appearing for the victim's family, together with Charlon Gouder and Ramona Attard.
11:50 Magistrate Rachel Montebello enters the courtroom and the sitting begins.
11:49 The numbers inside the courtroom have been reduced, only the seated members of the public remain.
11:46 There are around 30 people present, and members of the public are standing two rows deep. Court staff attempt to thin out the crowd by ejecting members who are not dressed appropriately.
11:45 The small courtroom is packed tight with the victim's family and friends. They are wearing small photographs of Pelin pinned to their lapels.
11:45 Good morning and welcome to our live-blog.
Mon, 30 Jan 2023 12:01:00 +0000
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