Egrant: people’s right to know
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Egrant: people’s right to know

Ten months ago a magisterial inquiry found there was no evidence linking the Prime Minister’s wife or her family to Egrant, one of three Panama offshore companies that are unlikely to disappear from Malta’s radar screen until all the facts about them are made known.

Despite repeated statements by the Prime Minister that he would like to have the report of the inquiry published in full, the country has been left in the dark about the full details of the magistrate’s findings.

At one point, Joseph Muscat said he would publish the inquiry within a few days once a review process was completed.

So far, only a summary, running into just 49 of the 1,500-page report has been published. Apparently the reason for this is that publication of the full report may jeopardise police criminal investigations into claims over the falsification of signatures. But other than this, speculation keeps mounting as to what exactly the magistrate had to say about the results of his inquiry. 

A constitutional court has now turned down the Opposition leader’s application seeking a full copy of the report, arguing that refusal by the government to grant him a copy did not breach his human rights. That may very well be the case, but there are other matters that would need to be taken into consideration, and the Opposition leader is there-fore right in deciding to appeal the judgment.

The delay in the publication of the full report has now gone too far, and, while it is understood that the parts that may jeopardise criminal investigation have to be “protected” for now, the public has a right to know what the rest of the report contains. Rather than dancing on a pinhead, as it is doing now, the government ought to publish it without further delay.

The Opposition leader was right too when he argued that he hadbeen placed in a disadvantageous position when he was denied a copy of the report.

The irony is that a copy of the report is known to have been seen by lawyer Pawlu Lia, the justice minister, and the Prime Minister’s spokesman, Kurt Farrugia.

The longer the government takes to publish the report, the greater will the speculation continue to build over the reasons for the withholding of its publication. The Attorney General has gone on record saying that publication of a redacted report was not an option since this would prompt speculation about the parts blocked out.

But since it has already been made known that these parts deal with the falsification of documents, these can very well be blocked out for the time being. There is no justification for the rest of the report to be kept under wraps. All this amounts to sheer indifference to the people’s right to know.

What is palpable too is the Prime Minister’s indifference to political correctness, as shown by his mantra that he would first wait for the outcome of inquiries before dealing with his chief of staff Keith Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi over their offshore companies.

Political correctness ought to have led the Prime Minister to suspend both from their posts, but Dr Muscat keeps shuffling his cards to the detriment of the country’s reputation.

This is a Times of Malta print editorial

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