17.07.20 Covid-19 Update



Tense day in Court in Daphne Caruana Galizia case compilation

A convulted day at the Law Courts dominated the news streams on Thursday, with the continuation of the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech, the alleged mastermind in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Fenech’s defence team asked Melvin Theuma, the self-confessed middleman, whether former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar had been paid a €30,000 sum by Edwin ‘il- Ġojja’ Brincat – who is described as a source for Cutajar in the criminal world. Theuma vehemently denied this claim, with media sources present in the court room saying that he laughed it off.

In a separate development, investigator Keith Arnaud confirmed that former chief of staff Keith Schembri would be present for meetings with the prime minister on the investigation. “We never felt the need to hide anything from him”. The commissioner would also be present for these meetings. Arnaud said that he met former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Schembri about the case in November 2017, then once a week before the arrests of that same year, and then in April and May 2018.

Coronavirus in Malta

The country registered the seventh consecutive day without any new cases. No recoveries took place, meaning that four active cases remain. Meanwhile, Prof Charmaine Gauci, Health Superintendent, told The Malta Independent that from current studies and findings, antibodies developed in patients who recovered from COVID-19 do not last long, but the reinfection rate is very low.

“From our findings, we are seeing  that antibodies in patients who recovered from COVID-19 do not last long, but when you look at the rates on an international level, we are noticing that the re-infection rate is low; meaning that re-infection is not very common.”

PN situation

There were little developments from Tal-Pietà throughout yesterday as both sides studied their next move. However, national broadcaster TVM reported that yet another executive council meeting will take place next Thursday. Sources quoted by TVM referred to a three-point agenda, which include the points “concrete action” and “political situation”.

Newspaper Review

The Times leads with the cross-examination of state witness Melvin Theuma who denied that he paid former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar €30.000 to recommend his pardon.

The Independent follows the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech during which Inspector Keith Arnaud revealed that the police took at least three statements from former chief of staff Keith Schembri.

In-Nazzjon reports that Yorgen Fenech’s defence is arguing in court that a missing file from the audio recordings recorded by Melvin Theuma could prove that the  state witness was not telling the whole truth. The court appointed an expert to extract the data from a hard drive.

L-Orizzont quotes Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis who warned the opposition that if it voted against a series of bills, it would be voting directly against the recommendations of the Venice Commission on which the proposed amendments are based.

The Times says that the Preti masterpiece Boethius and Philosophy has arrived in Malta after the government bought it at an auction. The oil on canvas painting had mysteriously disappeared from the Grandmaster’s Palace more than two centuries ago.

L-Orizzont says that EU leaders are today meeting for the first in-person summit since the Covid-19 outbreak. The two items on the agenda are the economic recovery plan and the Multi-annual Financial Framework.

The Independent quotes PN MPs who dismissed party leader Adrian Delia’s argument that the new statute imposes a two-year time bar between one vote of confidence and another. They argue that the rules will apply from the next such vote.

In-Nazzjon says that PN Leader Adrian Delia took part in a virtual summit of the European People’s Party. He said that Malta should aim for the maximum financial aid from the coronavirus recovery fund.

The Times’ Editorial focuses on the draft ODZ Reform, a policy document setting out new rules to protect the rural environment and outside development zone published recently for public consultation. The Editor argues that while the concept behind such reform is positive, it will ultimately boil down to the willingness of the appointed officials to implement it fairly without fear or favour.

The Independent expresses concern on the increase in population, which has now exceeded half a million, saying that this puts a great strain on our environment and infrastructure.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS (By corporatedispatch.com)

UN makes record $10.3bn appeal for fight against coronavirus

The United Nations is making an appeal for $10.3 billion (£8.2 billion) to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, its largest ever fund-raising call.

The UN says up to 265 million people could face starvation by the end of the year because of the impact of Covid-19.

The money will be for used for low income and fragile countries. Read more here.

Italy bans entry from Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro due to COVID-19

Italy on Thursday banned people coming from Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro from entering its territory to prevent the importation of COVID-19 cases from the outside.

“Anyone who has been in these territories in the last 14 days is prohibited from entry and transit in Italy. In the world the epidemic is in its hardest phase. We need the maximum caution to defend the progress we have made so far,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a statement.

EU Corner – by Comuniq.EU 

EU leaders gather in Brussels for first face-to-face talks seeking to overcome differences over stimulus plan

European Union leaders will seek to overcome their differences over a proposed stimulus to kick-start economic growth stifled by the coronavirus as they meet in Brussels on Friday for their first face-to-face talks since the pandemic hit.

Dutch opposition and a threat of a Hungarian veto weigh on chances for a deal on the EU‘s 2021-27 budget envisaged at slightly above 1 trillion euros and an attached new recovery fund worth 750 billion euros meant to help rebuild the southern economies affected the most by the crisis.

This daily update bulletin is being compiled for the Chamber of Advocates by CI Consulta from Corporate ID Group. CI Consulta delivers policy research and analysis, evaluations and impact assessments up to policy implementation and integration.