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‘Politicians cannot decide on any pardon that may implicate them’

Labour leader Joseph Muscat being interviewed in Iklin last night. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Labour leader Joseph Muscat being interviewed in Iklin last night. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

It is problematic for politicians to decide on a presidential pardon for a whistleblower who may implicate them, according to Joseph Muscat.

All I know is what has been reported in the media but this is why we need a Whistleblower Act

The Labour leader said this yesterday evening when asked about the oil buying scandal and the request made by a businessman to be given a pardon to turn in State evidence.

“All I know about this case is what has been reported in the media but this is why we need a Whistleblower Act,” Dr Muscat said while being interviewed under the tent in Iklin by TV co-hosts Simone Cini and Robert Musumeci.

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi had earlier said Cabinet would take a decision on granting a pardon in the case, on the recommendation of the Attorney General andother authorities.

The interview started on the wrong footing for Ms Cini, who introduced the Labour leader as Alfred Sant, the man Dr Muscat replaced at the helm five years ago.

Dr Muscat again pledged that a Labour government would hit the ground running after March by putting forward three important laws: a Whistleblower Act, the removal of a time-bar on corruption cases involving politicians and a law regulating political party financing.

In what was a veiled attempt at soothing the pain caused by former deputy leader Anġlu Farrugia’s criticism that Muscat’s Labour had departed from its core values, the Labour leader took time to thank those who militated in the Labour Party for many years.

“It is easy for these people to scoff when seeing new people joining the party but they understood the message and they have been part of the team effort to create a movement,” he said. Dr Farrugia’s name, however, did not crop up once in the hour-long interview.

On the party’s proposal to split Mepa’s environment and planning functions, Dr Muscat said he could not understand the Prime Minister’s criticism.

Environment groups have long been calling for this separation and the Church’s environment commission also came out in favour of the proposal, Dr Muscat added.

“Will Lawrence Gonzi now say the Church has an interest to please contractors?”

He insisted that checks and balances would increase because the environment authority would have a vote on the planning board and environment groups would have the chance to nominate a board member themselves.

It was a point he raised earlier when visiting small-time contractor Paul Mangion and his family at their Swatar home.

Dr Muscat said Labour’s proposal to split the authority’s planning and environmental functions would create less bureaucracy for people applying for building permits but strengthen environment protection.

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