Update 5 - Audio tape controversy - Busuttil says Toni Abela's position 'untenable' - PL deputy leader defends himself
Muscat comments on case
Update 4 - Adds Busuttil comments, video -
PN deputy Leader Simon Busuttil said this afternoon that Toni Abela's position as deputy leader of the PL was untenable.
Dr Busuttil said Dr Abela 'lied' when on television (during a debate with Dr Busuttil) he denied that he put pressure on the police not to press charges after an incident at Attard PL club. Then it transpired that Dr Abela admitted going to the police station and telling a labour policeman not to press charges.
"Dr Abela lied and his position has become untenable This is a test for Joseph Muscat. Toni Abela put pressure on the police and this is not acceptable. His position is untenable and we will now see how Dr Muscat will deal with his deputy leader" Dr Busuttil said at a press conference.
He made his comments less than an hour after Dr Abela insisted once more that he did not put any undue pressure on a policeman not to take action after an incident at Attard PL club two years ago.
He spoke at a hastily called press conference after an audio tape surfaced on youtube, where Dr Abela is heard speaking to members of the PL club about what he had done.
Dr Abela said at the press conference that his words had been taken out of context. What he had told the police, he said, was that this was a civil not a criminal issue. All lawyers did that, he said.
Dr Abela also insisted that this audio recording was about an issue raised by the club’s barman that somebody had changed the locks. It had nothing to do with a fight between another two men in the club, and which is not subject to a court case, he said.
He said he had spoken in that way to the Labour club members to emphasise the need for discipline.
The PL deputy leader said in reply to questions that he would not resign, insisting this was not a case of corruption as it was not something from which he had benefited. Nor had he corrupted any policeman, he insisted.
"I did nothing wrong," Dr Abela said. He also pointed out that he had promptly convened a press conference and faced journalists. Austin Gatt had not done anything despite the questions raised about him, he said.
He said he would not resign and would continue on his political mission. He challenged anyone having any more recordings to produce them.
He also asked what action had been taken by the PN, and whether police action had been taken, after a PN club was found to be involved in a prostitution ring.
Asked about this incident, the Nationalist Party said when the allegations became known to it, it immediately closed down the premises immediately and gave all access to the police to investigate.
The club did not open before the police said that it could do so, the PN said.
Unlike what Dr Abela did, no PN official went to the police station and ordered the police to ignore the case, it said.
DAVID AGIUS STATEMENT
In the morning, Nationalist MP David Agius in a statement referred to media reports about a court case related to a fight at Attard Labour Party Club and the evidence of Richard Vella.
The court evidence (given last week) revealed the existence of an audio recording where PL deputy leader Toni Abela allegedly says that he went to a police station, looked up a policeman who was labourite, and asked him not to press charges, Mr Agius said.
It was also said in court that he (David Agius) was among a number of persons who knew about the recording.
Mr Agius said he wanted to confirm that on October 15, 2010 he learnt of the contents of the audio recording about which reference was made in court. After he identified Toni Abela as the person speaking on tape, on October 20, 2010 he had called on the Commissioner of Police, telling him what he had heard. He also asked him to investigate.
He also made a statement to the police.
Dr Abela last week denied putting any pressure on the police.
Earlier, Labour leader Joseph Muscat, who was asked about the issue said that Dr Abela would be issuing a detailed statement to clarify the matter.
Dr Muscat said there appeared to be some confusion about two separate cases. He also said the Police Commissioner had not even sent for Dr Abela over the Attard case.