MaltaToday previous editions

MALTATODAY 12 June 2022

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 1 of 47

2 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 12 JUNE 2022 NEWS MAYA DIMITRIJEVIC ACTIVISTS and members of Moviment Graffitti launched an early morning direct action on the island of Comino, protesting the private concessions blocking access to the public coastline. The activists, around 50 in all, came to the public Comino beach shouting: "The sea, the bay, it is everybody's… it is unac- ceptable to pay money to enjoy what is ours by right." The Graffitti activists proceed- ed to remove the laid-out deck- chairs and folded them neatly against a retaining wall. "We are not damaging the deckchairs. It is unacceptable that all the deck- chairs have been laid out without even the first tourist boat having arrived to the island." The activists then laid out their beach towels. "We are here to enjoy this public bay." Deckchairs and umbrellas have hogged Comino's Blue Lagoon throughout many a summer. A petition in 2021 asked MPs for "the removal of sun beds and deckchairs from Comino", gath- ering over 600 signatures. The deckchairs are placed on every inch of the shoreline - jet- ty, beaches and rocks - before the first tourist boats arrive, by private vendors who treat the Blue Lagoon as their own per- sonal beach lido. "Many Maltese say they nev- er visit Comino because of this. This should not happen," Graf- fitti spokesperson Andre Callus said. "The Blue Lagoon is a pub- lic area that should be free for everyone; residents and tourists alike, to enjoy without being co- erced into paying for something they do not want." Callus said the act of civil dis- obedience was prompted after Tourism Minister Clayton Bar- tolo had kicked the can down the road when he promised to crack down on deckchair vendors but failed to specify how or when. "Moviment Graffitti did not want the issue to be swept un- der the carpet for yet another summer and so we took direct action," Callus said. Earlier this week, Movement Graffitti wrote an open letter to five ministers outlining six de- mands related to Blue Lagoon and Comino as a whole. These were: stipulating a per- centage for the beach conces- sion's coverage with the fore- shore left unencumbered, in conformity with the Public Do- main Act. This number should form part of a policy document for Comino in keeping with the recommendations of ERA's Comino Management Plan (2019); Limiting the number and size of kiosks around the beach to prevent congestion and over-commercialisation of the area; commercial activity must pay a financial contribution for the upkeep of the bay. Graffitti said the government must take urgent action to en- sure the upkeep and proper pa- trolling of the island of Comino, abolish music from kiosks and boats and loud generators, and launch a carrying capacity that sets a limit to the people visiting the island and prohibit large fer- ries from entering Blue Lagoon. "Predictably, these demands have so far been met with si- lence," Callus said. "The lawlessness in the Blue Lagoon area is by no means the only issue that needs urgent attention in Comino. Also of concern is the way that the Hili Group has completely closed off access to San Niklaw Bay with gates and fences. We would like to remind everyone that accord- ing to Maltese law, the first 15 metres of shoreline are consid- ered public domain. "If these issues are not resolved, we will be back." Activists from Moviment Graffitti launch direct action against concessionaires blocking legal right to public shoreline Graffitti take on Comino's profiteers POLICE have arraigned a major Maltese player in an Italian co- caine trafficking ring, on request by Italian authorities, wanted for extradition. John Spiteri, 56, known as Gi- anni, was arrested on Friday in Qrendi on the strength of a Eu- ropean Arrest Warrant issued by the Italian police. He was arraigned on Saturday afternoon, where a court heard requests by the prosecution to extradite Spiteri to Italy to face charges of conspiracy and rack- eteering. His defence lawyer is Franco Debono. Spiteri was refused bail. In 2021, Spiteri was among a group of 16 people arrested in It- aly as part of a police sting code- named 'Operation La Vallette', to rout out a criminal organisa- tion moving drugs from Albania to the Italian south, Sicily and Malta. Spiteri handled the Maltese end of the operation. A total of 430kg in cannabis, cannabis resin and cocaine were seized in the Italian bust, led by some 100 officers from Italian finance police andthe serious crimes unit. Fabian Catania, 55, was anoth- er Maltese associated named in the Italian court documents but not arrested in Operation La Vallette. He is facing drug traf- ficking charges from 2018. Italian prosecutors said Spi- teri and Italian associate Rosa- rio Amico shipped drugs from Puglia to Malta between 2018 and 2019, with Catania act- ing as a courier driving a Mal- ta-registered Isuzu. Checks with Maltese ferry company Virtu Ferries established that Catania was travelling to Malta multiple times a year, as was an associate of his, Albanian national Eriseld Hoxhaj, known as Riku. Amico's son, Ray, was delegat- ed by his father to collect pay- ment for drug shipments and maintain contact with Spiteri. Wiretaps of Amico and Spiteri have them discussing prices of shipments and new methods of delivery. In one intercepted con- versation, two of Amico's asso- ciates are heard discussing how they feared Spiteri wanted them dead. "Surely Gianni [Spiteri] paid them to kill me... he wanted to kill me!" Bail refused for man wanted by Italian police on trafficking charge The Graffitti activists proceeded to remove the laid-out deckchairs and folded them neatly against a retaining wall. "We are not damaging the deckchairs. It is unacceptable that all the deckchairs have been laid out without even the first tourist boat having arrived to the island." PHOTOS JAMES SCICLUNA

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of MaltaToday previous editions - MALTATODAY 12 June 2022