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MaltaToday 24 November 2021 MIDWEEK

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3 maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 24 NOVEMBER 2021 NEWS Matthew Caruana Galizia testifies against Agius brothers, associates NICOLE MEILAK PRIME Minister Robert Abe- la has backed Roberta Metso- la's bid to be the next Europe- an Parliament president. However, he passed a grudging remark when offer- ing his support. "If I did not support her nomination, I would be doing exactly what she did to our country. So the response is obvious: yes, I support I her," he said. The Labour Party has often accused Nationalist Party MEPs, like Metsola, of trying to sully Malta's reputation at the EU level. Ahead of a parliamentary resolution on the rule of law in Malta, Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba claimed that the debate was only being held because of pressure from PN MEPs David Casa and Rober- ta Metsola. Despite this, Agius Saliba was the first Labour MEP to extend his support to Metso- la in her bid to become Mal- ta's first European Parliament president. Metsola formally submit- ted her candidature to be the European People's Party can- didate on Monday alongside Austrian MEP Othmar Karas and Dutch MEP Esther de Lange. The three-way race will be decided tonight by EPP dele- gates and the winner will be pushed by the party for the presidency of the parliament. Metsola, 42, was first elect- ed a member of the European Parliament for the National- ist Party in a casual election in 2013. She was subsequent- ly elected on her own steam in 2014 and 2019. She currently holds the post of first vice president of the EP and sits on the committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs. Metsola was more recently the rapporteur on anti-SLAPP legislative in- itiative being considered by the parliament. Robert Abela will support Metsola's bid for European Parliament president MATTHEW AGIUS MATTHEW Caruana Galizia faced the men accused of supplying the bomb that killed his mother when testifying in court yesterday. He recounted once again how he saw body parts from his mother's butchered body as he approached the burning car on that fateful day. Daphne Caruana Galizia was mur- dered in a powerful car bomb explosion on 16 October 2017. Matthew was testifying in the compi- lation of evidence of brothers Adrian and Robert Agius, and their associates Jamie Vella and George Degiorgio. Robert Agius and Jamie Vella are ac- cused of supplying the bomb that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia. Degiorgio is facing separate proceedings on the same case. Adrian Agius is accused of master- minding the murder of lawyer Carmel Chircop, while Vella and Degiorgio are charged with carrying out the murder. In his testimony, Matthew Caruana Galizia said that in the period that his mother was murdered, she had been working on a leak from Electrogas. "My mother was under a lot of pres- sure… there was a major investigation she was working on, she was constant- ly being harassed, and her general de- meanour was one of stress. But she had made it a part of her life and she was used to dealing with it. It was just a reg- ular morning working together. She was flustered because she was going to be late to the bank appointment," Caruana Galizia told the court. His mother had left the family home to attend a bank appointment since her accounts had been frozen by then min- ister Chris Cardona through a garnishee order as part of libel proceedings against her. Reliving the traumatic experience, Matthew Caruana Galizia told the court that while running down the hill to- wards the burning car he came across a lower leg detached on the ground. "I said, ok this is my mum's leg. It was severed below the knee. The car's horn was blaring. A woman with a crying child was standing close by and asked what to do. I told her to call the police," he recounted. The Agius brothers, known as Tal-Maksar, and Vella had long been suspected of having been the bomb suppliers in the Caruana Galizia mur- der case. They had been arrested in De- cember 2017 but later released with no charge. They were arrested in February this year, shortly after Vince Muscat pleaded guilty for his part in the Caruana Galizia murder and was sentenced to 15 years in prison after a plea bargain agreement. Muscat was granted a presidential par- don to tell all on the Chircop murder and helped police with key evidence on the Caruana Galizia murder that pinned one of the Agius brothers to the crime. The case continues. Roberta Metsola CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 The message is a clear indica- tion that the PN will hold on to the end before committing itself wholly against the cannabis regu- larisation Bill. The proposed law has divided the PN and by the time that the Second Reading concluded in parliament on Monday, Bernard Grech had not spoken. The Opposition voted against the Bill, which now goes to com- mittee stage where individual clauses will be discussed. Under the proposed Bill, people over 18 will be able to carry 7g of cannabis without criminal sanc- tion. For amounts above 7g and below 28g the person could face charges in front of a tribunal with a proportional fine. However, any person with up to 28g of cannabis will not be ar- rested unless there is strong and reasonable suspicion of traffick- ing. The reform will also allow people to grow up to four plants at home. Opposition social affairs spokes- person Claudette Buttigieg, who kicked off the PN's reaction dur- ing the Second Reading, could not say what amendments the party would put forward at com- mittee stage. "We don't always put in our amendments to the Bill itself, but we always look to contribute with ad- vice on the issues being discussed, and that is what we will do," she said. The MP said the Opposi- tion is currently voicing the opin- ions and concerns of NGOs and experts. "It's not an issue of amend- ments, our responsibility doesn't stop there. We will discuss any changes brought forward at com- mittee stage," Buttigieg said. She also pointed out that both the health and social justice ministers did not speak dur- ing the Second Reading of the debate. "That is unheard of," she in- sisted. "Not a single doctor MP from the government side spoke dur- ing the debate, and that says a lot," she said. Asked whether a PN govern- ment will repeal the cannabis law, Buttigieg said making such a commitment would be irrespon- sible. "I cannot commit absolutely. I do not have the final law in my hand, and I don't know its con- sequences. To repeal a law is not a light decision, to speak hypo- thetically would be irresponsible of me. My decision has to be evi- dence based," she said. Buttigieg also said the minis- ter for reforms must commit to carrying out continuous studies should the Bill be enacted into law. "We must know what is going on, and the impact of cannabis on society," she said. 'We must know what is going on, and the impact of cannabis on society' Opposition social affairs spokesperson Claudette Buttigieg

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