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MW 22 March 2017

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2 maltatoday, WEDNESDAY, 22 MARCH 2017 News Scicluna: 'We are all brothers' CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Scicluna said that he had received very positive feedback about children of non-Catholic faith attending church schools in Malta. "And we wish to share all this with others, without using any form of force or violence to stif le their religious freedoms." The schools had respected the students' religious freedom, and that led to the children having a very positive impression of Ca- tholicism. The experience, he said, had also helped dissipate pre-existing prejudices on both sides. "The Church schools in Malta will always remain Catholic," Sci- cluna insisted. "But the Catholic ethos is one of inclusion that re- spects the religious freedom of Catholic parents as well as that of parents of other faiths." Scicluna said that serving Cath- olic parents would remain Church schools' top priority, while re- specting other religions and stu- dents of other faiths. "We are not afraid of religious inclusion," he said. "We are all brothers, called to co-exist in peace and harmony." Scicluna said that as Maltese are starting to consider themselves citizens of Europe and the world at large, people should also see the image of God in all human beings, including those of a different race and religion. On Mercieca, Scicluna said all Maltese had a duty to keep the memory of the late archbishop alive to ensure his legacy lived on. "The prophetic words of Mons. Mercieca ten years ago are ex- tremely topical today," he said. "They challenge the Church to remain faithful to the values of the holy sacrament of marriage without erecting barriers that will exclude some individuals." Scicluna said that many of the sentiments carried in recent papal documents, including Amoris La- etitiae, were ref lected in Mercie- ca's words and behaviour during his bishopric. "Joseph Mercieca always felt the need to close to the people," Sci- cluna said. "That he managed to do just that is a testament to his character and values." Man jailed for 'knowingly assisting' MATTHEW AGIUS AN Egyptian man was yesterday jailed for his involvement in the rape of a man in 2015. 26-year-old Helmy Moham- ed Helmay Elmosaty had been charged, together with 35-year- old Ramy Gamal Elasrag, in 2015 in connection with the man's rape, in Gnien il-Mall at Floriana. Elasrag was charged with the rape itself and holding the man against his will, whilst Elmosaty was charged with knowingly as- sisting the commission of a rape and illegal arrest. Both men had initially pleaded not guilty. In a sitting in December 2015, the court had heard a police con- stable testify how on 31 August that year, he had been dispatched from the Valletta Police station to deal with a report of theft. Upon arriving at the scene, the policeman said that he had found a Filipino man who told him how he had been threatened with a knife by two Arab men, who then stole his bag. The Filipino claimed that he then started shouting for help and in the ensuing mayhem, one of the attackers dropped a mobile phone he had been carrying. The police had analysed the photos on the phone's memory card in his presence. The Filipino had recognised Elmosaty from the photos, said the constable. He had declined the police's offer of ar- Justyne Caruana denies links with Gozo drug trafficking case PARLIA MENTARY secretary for the elderly Justyne Caruana has categorically denied any links to an alleged case of po- litical interference in an inves- tigation into drug trafficking in Gozo. PN deputy leader Beppe Fene- ch Adami said in Parliament on Monday that several MPs have received anonymous letters in an attempt to implicate Caruana and newly-appointed magistrate Grezio Mercieca. He said neither of them had anything to do with the case, and that this was an attempt by "certain individuals" to divert at- tention from those truly respon- sible. "We are living in a situation to- day where we have people who, to derail an investigation that is currently underway, are trying to turn the spotlight onto Justyne Caruana and Grazio Mercieca," he said. "They do not want to truth to emerge but the opposi- tion will do its utmost to ensure that it does." MaltaToday had reported that in June 2013, a young woman from Sannat and a young man from Victoria were caught in the possession of nine packets of co- caine (not heroin as reported last week). They were arrested at a "Cali- ente" party and the woman said in her statement that she had bought drugs from two young men, the one from Victoria and another from Munxar. The man from Munxar was not present at the party, held at Mgarr ix-Xini. The investigation was led by In- spector Bernard Spiteri. Later in September 2013, the young man from Munxar was caught in the possession of can- nabis in Marsalforn. He was ar- rested and the police started to look into the allegations made in the first report. The suspect's father was seen entering the Gozo ministry in October. Soon after this meeting the young Sannat woman was ac- companied by her law yer at the Victoria police station, where she requested to change her original statement. In her new statement she changed her previous state- ment about the drug trafficker from Munxar, to say he had not supplied her with the drugs. Both Gozo minister Anton Re- falo and the former home affairs minister at the time, now com- petitiveness minister Manuel Mallia, have denied knowledge of the case and political involve- ment. Mallia told the Times of Malta that the only meetings he ever held in Gozo were for official purposes. But MaltaToday later reported that police records of two police motorcyclists de- tailed to accompany a minister in Gozo may be the key to under- standing what really happened in October 2013 t is not protocol for police mo- torcyclists to accompany minis- ters, but an officer in charge at the time made exceptions and ordered that two police motorcy- clists escort the minister. All details of police motorcycle events are carefully recorded by the police. A minister was allegedly es- corted to the Gozo ministry in October 2013 at around 10:30pm, where he is believed to have met the father of a youth from Munx- ar, who had been caught in the possession of drugs. The parent was seen entering the building of the Gozo ministry at around 11pm, having told bystanders that he was there to talk to the two ministers. He left the build- ing at around 1:30am. An inquiry, led by law yer John Vassallo, has been launched at the request of the Prime Minister after MaltaToday first published news that the meeting between ministers and the parent of the suspect had taken place in Gozo. The inquiry only recently started calling key witnesses to testif y. The Nationalist Party has criti- cized the choice of Vassallo, who is a former Labour electoral can- didate. Yesterday, Justyne Caruana said that the inquiry must be al- lowed to run its course without being prejudiced by anonymous allegations. Junior Minister Justyne Caruana said that the inquiry must be allowed to run its course without being prejudiced by anonymous allegations PHOTOGRAPHY BY: JASON BORG - DOI Opposition to vote in favour of media bill as government removes obligation to register news portals YANNICK PACE AFTER organising a demon- stration in Valletta last month in protest against what it la- beled as "undemocratic" meas- ures proposed in the media and defamation law, the Opposition said it will vote in favour of the same law following a number of amendments by government. Yesterday evening, both sides agreed to vote for the Media and Defamation Bill after the govern- ment proposed several amend- ments during the bill's second reading in parliament. Justice minister Owen Bon- nici said that the government had listened to criticism from stakeholders and experts, and had agreed that some aspects of the proposed law needed to be amended. Bonnici said that the amend- ments to the bill that were being proposed included extending the protection of sources to anyone carrying out "journalistic activi- ty," less powers being given to the minister, as well as a provision that will allow damages awarded to be proportional to the size of the media organisation being sued. Another amendment that was being proposed, said Bonnici, was the removal of the obliga- tion for online news portals to be registered with authorities, a clause that received a great deal of criticism from the public, with many arguing that it would hin- der freedom of expression. "I want to set the record straight. When we said that on- line news portals will have to register, we meant they would have to do that which newspa- pers are already obliged to do," he said The minister stressed that the public had a right to know who the editor of a newspaper was so that they could know who to complain to or sue, if they felt ag- grieved by something published by a media organisation. Despite the fact that the clause made le- gal sense, Bonnici said the gov- ernment had decided to "err on the side of freedom of expres- sion." Opposition MP Clyde Puli said that the proposed law would define the county's democratic credentials and stressed that in its original form, the law was a step backwards, and a threat to freedom of expression. He added that the PN's criticism was not capricious, as evidenced by the long list of law and media experts that had voiced serious concerns about the bill. "The law in front of us has tak- en a narrow view of things and has not taken into account all laws related to communication and broadcasting," said Puli, dis- missing the bill's first draft as "a reaction to events that took place in recent months." "The bill was proposed by the government after the PN had been calling for the removal of criminal libel for over a year and after a minister enforced a garnishee order on a journalist," Puli said. He said that this criticism had caused the government to change its mind on a number of the provisions in the law and that the opposition would therefore be voting in favour of the law, while reserving the right to put forward its own amendments when the bill moves on to com- mittee stage.

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