Robert Abela / DOI Omar Camilleri

The Institute of Maltese Journalists (IGM) has condemned Prime Minister (PM) Robert Abela’s remarks that some journalists and media houses are working for the so-called “establishment,” stating that these comments are “unacceptable in a democratic society.”

The IGM’s statement, released on Tuesday morning, refers to a press conference held by Dr Abela on Monday afternoon after the news that Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg has filed charges against 19 individuals regarding the deal to privatise a number of state hospitals, seeing around €400 million in public funds being spent. These individuals include former PM Joseph Muscat, as well as his former chief of staff Keith Schembri and former minister Konrad Mizzi.

In a 90-minute press conference, Dr Abela appealed for calm, stating that a magisterial inquiry is not a court of law, and that according to law, all of the individuals involved should be seen as innocent until the judicial procedure is launched and finalised.

During the conference, Dr Abela made at least 47 references to the so-called “establishment,” a group of people which are militating against the Labour Party. He also remarked that certain questions posed by journalists were fielded in order to support the establishment, which he feels is seeking to damage the Labour Party through the timing of the news about the Vitals inquiry, right before the local council and MEP elections.

The IGM stated that Dr Abela’s tone in the press conference is noted with “concern,” as he implied that certain journalists are “enemies of the state and of the people.”

“The IGM condemns such comments, which are unacceptable in a democratic society. At a time when the country is on the brink of an election and when a serious case that can have political ramifications will be dealt with by the courts soon, the PM should not instigate hate towards journalists and the media,” it added.

Additionally, it called on the PM to moderate his language, stating that journalists are “just doing their duty” when asking questions, and are thus “holding the country’s authorities, whoever they are, accountable for their actions.”

The IGM expressed its full support and solidarity towards journalists, urging them to “continue with their work without fear or favour.”

Featured Image:

Prime Minister Robert Abela during Monday’s press conference / DOI – Omar Camilleri

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