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The sum of all allegations

The conclusions of the magisterial inquiry into the Egrant Inc. allegations make it clear Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his wife, Michelle, had nothing to do with the Panama company. That allegation, it bears recalling, had led to the calling of an early election though Dr Muscat always denied any wrongdoing.

Through his lawyers, he had asked the Police Commissioner in April last year to look into allegations that his wife was the ultimate beneficial owner of Egrant, rightly pointing out that such claims undermined both the country’s administration and the financial services industry. The police, in turn, had asked a magistrate to look into the allegations.

Now, after long months of investigations and hearing a multitude of witnesses and experts both Maltese and foreigners, the magistrate has proved Dr Muscat right: there was nothing to link the ownership of Egrant to him or his family.

The sum of 100 suspicions do not amount to a single proof, the magistrate noted.

The Prime Minister is understandably relieved the “nightmare” is now over.

Not so for former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil, his successor, Adrian Delia, and the Nationalist Party. Their ‘nightmare’ has just started and they must proceed with the utmost correctness unless they want to see the party, which is already in a mess, dig the hole it is in even deeper.

What happened yesterday does not bode well. Dr Delia accepted the magistrate’s conclusions and noted that since Dr Busuttil had himself pushed the Egrant allegations when he was party leader he had asked him to suspend himself from the PN parliamentary group.

But Dr Busuttil would have nothing of the sort and not only declared he would not “resign” but also accused the party leader of taking sides with Dr Muscat.

That led the party’s administrative council to meet late in the evening, unanimously urging Dr Busuttil to suspend himself.

That no love is lost between the two men has been evident ever since the day Dr Delia showed interest in the party headship. Dr Delia has done very little if any to do what needs to be done to take the party out of its doldrums.

Indeed, the situation appears to be getting worse not better.

Still, on the Egrant issue, Dr Delia was correct. As the leader of a political party, Dr Busuttil had done his utmost to gain as much political mileage as possible from the allegations made then. To the extent that he practically made them his own as if he was in possession of solid evidence.

Just as he had assumed responsibility for the heavy electoral defeat last year and stepped down as leader, Dr Busuttil should have also resigned now, certainly from the PN parliamentary group.

He says he did not want to leave because the fight against corruption and justice must continue. Indeed, it must, and he can still contribute.

If he opts to remain in Parliament he can join the vociferous two-member minority in Opposition – Godfrey Farrugia and Marlene Farrugia.

If he resigns from the House he can be a leading element in the ‘movement’ comprising so many ‘forces’ that have come together since Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.

As such, he will also keep the PN and its leader on their toes.

This is a Times of Malta print editorial

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