Opposition walks out of parliament after Speaker rules against urgent debate on hospitals inquiry

Opposition walks out of parliament after Speaker rules against urgent debate on hospitals inquiry
Opposition walks out of parliament after Speaker rules against urgent debate on hospitals inquiry

Updated at 5:55pm with Speaker’s ruling

Opposition MPs walked out of parliament on Monday afternoon after Speaker Anglu Farrugia rejected a request for an urgent debate on the hospitals inquiry.

Farrugia ruled that a parliamentary debate on the inquiry at this stage could prejudice the human rights of possible suspects and interfere in ongoing investigations. He cited a previous ruling he gave in 2020 when he denied a request for a debate on the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia because legal advice obtained back then suggested the debate could prejudice ongoing criminal cases.

However, Opposition leader Bernard Grech accused the Speaker of misrepresenting the motion, which called for an urgent debate on the publication of the inquiry.

Grech accused the Speaker of being complicit with government in trying to muzzle debate on the inquiry. Opposition MPs then stood up and walked out of parliament in protest.

Grech had presented the motion after parliamentary questions on the same day that it was confirmed that the police have filed charges in court against at least 19 people mentioned in the inquiry.

MaltaToday understands that former prime minister Joseph Muscat, his then chief of staff Keith Schembri and former minister Konrad Mizzi are among those charged.

The government side had objected to the request and the Speaker suspended the sitting until he deliberated on his ruling.

READ ALSO: Joseph Muscat: I’m ready to fight anyone seeking revenge

When presenting the motion, Grech said the Prime Minister had a copy of the magisterial inquiry and was quoting selectively from it, while attacking the judiciary.

He insisted that the people had a right to know what the inquiry contained. He said this was an urgent matter of public controversy and thus the motion to discuss the inquiry’s publication should be accepted.

Prime Minister Robert Abela rebutted by accusing the Opposition of wanting to turn the hospitals inquiry into a political football. He denied having a copy of the inquiry and insisted the bigger issue was who had inside information from the inquiry while it was going on.

Abela said he was in favor of the inquiry being published but parliament was not the forum for a debate on the matter.

In a quick retort, Grech accused Abela of trying to control who receives what information. “Now that the establishment has spoken, it is clear the Prime Minister wants to keep the information to himself and show it only to those he deems fit,” Grech said.

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