Today’s newspapers’ front pages deal with different stories covering a number of issues. Pilatus Bank is the theme of two front page stories on as much newspapers, the sale of Selmun is dealt with on The Independent. The Times leads with the court hearings related to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder. The warrant to two law students also finds itself on the front page of The Times. Other stories cover a number of news items and follow ups.
More details follow in today’s newspaper review prepared by Nathanael Muscat.
The Malta Independent gives prominence to a reaction by the Malta Financial Services Authority in the wake of questions raised by PN MP Jason Azzopardi. The frontpage article <<Pilatus bank payments are ‘in relation to basic operational and day-to-day requirements’ – MFSA>> reports that the Authority the payments revealed by Jason Azzopardi on Wednesday have been effected by Pilatus Bank to cover basic operational expenses “including employees salaries.” The MP had said on Facebook that a series of payments by the Malta Central Bank to the creditors of Pilatus Bank have been being made since Maundy Thursday on March 29, totalling almost €130,000. Quoting Azzopardi, the newspaper says that the MP raised questions about the secrecy of the payments: “why hasn’t the CBM gone public about it?”
In a second story on the frontpage, The Malta Independent reports on an opinion article by PN MP Marthese Portelli published on the backpage of the same edition. <<’Electorate deserves to know,’ says Marthese Portelli on sale of Selmun Palace>> reviews the article by the PN spokesperson for planning, capital projects and property and highlights the concerns raised about giving the Grade 1 public monument to the private while it asks for transparency in the process.
More frontpage stories concerning Pilatus Bank on In-Nazzjon <<Bank Malti qabbadni ma’ Pilatus Bank>>. The article follows an interview to The London Times on Sunday with New Zealand billionaire Christopher Chandler who acquired a Maltese passport through IIP. Chandler is quoted to have told the newspaper that he bought “a respected passport from a respected country” and that he was introduced to Pilatus Bank, through which the payment was made, by another local bank. The article reports on a number of questions raised in the British paper including which local bank passed on a €1 million investment to recommend a rival institution.
The main story in The Times covers an incident in Court during a sitting involving Bidnija murder suspect Alfred Degiorgio. <<Judge warns accused over ‘threatening’ words>> reports that Madame Justice Lorrain Schembri Orland warned Degiorgio, il-Fulu, after he was heard mouthing “Inneħħuha ‘l din. Inneħħuha ‘l din” as he walked with his handcuffed hands raised past lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia, who is appearing for the Caruana Galizia family. According to the article the lawyer said she found Degiorgio “unusually agitated” but she had not heard the words themselves.
A second story on The Times reports that the two law students that had been given a conditional discharge have now obtained warrants to practise law. <<Guilty law students to be given warrants>> says how a controversy was stirred after the Association of Judges and Magistrates in Malta cleared Yanica Barbara and Thomas Sant despite being found guilty of theft. The Chief Justice at the time and the President of the Chamber of Advocates objected strongly and advised against granting the graduates the warrant. Justice Minister Owen Bonnici had withdrawn the warrant invitation to the students but in comments to the newspaper confirmed that they have since obtained it.
L-Orizzont carries four stories on its frontpage, the main one following on the Gozo Channel bomb scare last week. <<M’hemmx garanzija assoluta ta’ kumpens>> speaks to lawyers with regards to the legal and financial repercussions that might result from the scare. Gozo Channel Chairman Joe Cordina revealed that the company intends to sue the two accused of making the call. A second story <<Żieda fis-safar mill-Maltin u l-Għawdxin>> quotes NSOs figures of a 19.5% increase in travelling between January and March compared to the same period in 2017. The statistics reported by the newspaper show that EU destinations increased by 17% while those beyond EU borders grew by 45%
In an interview with Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia, L-Orizzont reports that Luqa hit-and-run victim PC Simon Schembri will be retained either within the Force itself or the Police Academy. <<”L-esperjenza tal-Kuntistabbli Schembri mhux ta’ min jitlifha”>> says that, while it is still early, the Home Minsitry is holding talks to see how Schembri’s experience can be retained. The fourth story carried by the newspaper is about the impact of construction sites on nearby swimming areas. <<”Wieħed ta’ min jistaqsi x’ġara lill-perit jew konsulent involute”>> quotes Malta Developers Association President asking for project managers of specific incidents to be held accountable.
Today’s Talking Point in The Times is by Express Trailers CEO Franco Azzopardi who discusses safety on the roads <<Road ambassadors for safety>>. Mr Azzopardi says that because road accidents and fatalities are a frequent occurrence in our country, the company has committed itself to advocate for road safety by launching a Road Safety Campaign. The CEO acknowledges that, as a logistics company, Express Trailers can be a nuisance on the roads but says that its drivers are foremost road safety ambassadors while the 60-year-old company is constantly investing in a newer, safer fleet.
The backpage on The Malta Independent carries an opinion article by PN MP Marthese Portelli <<What next, Selmun?>> in which she decries the selling of public land and property “to a few blue-eyes guys”. The PN spokesperson for planning, capital projects and property says that the recent announcement for the sale of Selmun Palace must not be a repeat of the land in Żonqor, Dock 1, the public hospitals, the former ITS site and other properties which were sold “for peanuts”. Dr Portelli makes a series of questions about the Grade 1 Palace in Selmun, among them asking which ministry will be responsible for handling the process and demanding a project brief by the government.
In-Nazzjon carries a report on the case of the 7-year-old girl was died in January after long suffering from illness <<Titlesta l-inkjesta ordnata mill-MInisteru għall-Familja>>. The story says that an investigation ordered at the time by the Ministry for Family, Children’s Rights, and Social Solidarity has now been completed and a final report formally presented to the Minister. The Ministry said it will seek the advice of the Attorney General on when to publish details of the investigation. Viktoria Aluko, who lived with her Nigerian family in Żabbar, was found dead on 21 January.
<<Il-Mixja tal-Ebola tersaq lejn il-Kongo>> is the story carried on the backpage of L-Orizzont, reporting on the recent new outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cases of the epidemic have now been reported in cities which the article says will make it harder to control. The deadly infection has already claimed the lives of 23 people while another 42 are reported to have contracted the disease.
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