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Police must probe e-mails deletion claim, says Muscat

The police have a duty to investigate allegations that e-mails were deleted from the computer of a high-ranking government official under investigation, Opposition Leader Joseph Muscat said yesterday.

Rita Schembri, who heads the Government’s Internal Audit and Investigations directorate and also sits on EU anti-fraud agency OLAF’s supervisory committee, is on temporary leave as she faces down ethics breach allegations.

According to yesterday’s Malta Today, IT experts have been seen entering her Valletta office and deleting emails from her work PC. No further details were given.

“It is shocking to read of such things happening in a developed country. The police must step in,” Dr Muscat said. In a statement, the Government said the Prime Minister had asked the Auditor General to investigate allegations that appeared in the media, as announced on Friday.

Reiterating its position that all allegations would be investigated, it called on anyone who has information about any irregularities in this case, including the Leader of the Opposition, to file a report.

Mr Muscat prefaced his calls for police intervention by warning his Mosta crowd that voting for the Nationalist Party would mean further electricity bill increases.

Finance Minister Tonio Fenech said last week that the Government’s €30 million subsidy to Enemalta would be kept “for next year”.

“Those extra words confirm what the European Commission had already let slip: if this Government were to be re-elected, electricity tariffs would rise once again,” Dr Muscat said.

He derided the Government for being in “absolute panic” on energy matters. “When the Sargas proposal first emerged, they all insisted it just wouldn’t work. Now, after building a massively-polluting power station, the Prime Minister is saying it’s feasible.”

The Opposition leader continued to woo disgruntled Nationalist voters, drawing unflattering comparisons between Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and his predecessor, President Emeritus Eddie Fenech Adami.

Dr Muscat indirectly praised Dr Fenech Adami, saying good things had been done over the past 25 years thanks to Dr Gonzi’s “predecessor”.

“But Dr Gonzi has himself dismantled a lot of what his predecessor had achieved. His years as Prime Minister have jeopardised past progress,” he said.

Any gains people received during this week’s budget were not at risk if the PL were to be elected.

“We want to ease people’s minds. And it will take more than the Government opening its wallet on Wednesday for people to forget how much it’s taken from their pockets over the past four years,” he said. Arguing that Malta had been spared another European “humiliation” and Tonio Borg’s Commissioner nomination was cemented by the lobbying effort of the PL’s four MEPs, Dr Muscat laid into the Government’s European credentials.

“Being European isn’t about waving a flag. It’s about accepting criticism and being willing to compromise. It’s a style this Government has clearly failed to adopt.”

The PN remained unimpressed, saying Dr Muscat was brazenly trying to paint himself as more European than the PN. His words, a PN statement argued, dripped populism and were devoid of any substance.

“For the PL to reduce electricity rates, they will have to increase taxes,” a PN spokesman said. “What are the PL’s policies? How will they bankroll their promises? Muscat’s promises mean more taxes,” they said.

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