Malta PM Abela Faces Pressure as Officials Face Vitals Deal Charges

Malta's former government ministers, including Chris Fearne and Edward Scicluna, are set to face criminal charges in court on May 29, 2024, in connection with the controversial Vitals hospitals deal, amidst mounting pressure on Prime Minister Robert Abela to take action against Scicluna and address corruption within the government. The case has far-reaching implications for Malta's government and institutions, with the outcome of the court proceedings expected to significantly impact public trust in the government." This description focuses on the primary topic of the article (the Vitals hospitals deal scandal), the main entities involved (former government ministers, Prime Minister Robert Abela, and the Maltese government), the context (Malta's political landscape), and the significant actions and implications (criminal charges, mounting pressure, and potential impact on public trust). The description also provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content.

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Nitish Verma
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Malta PM Abela Faces Pressure as Officials Face Vitals Deal Charges

Malta PM Abela Faces Pressure as Officials Face Vitals Deal Charges

Malta's Prime Minister Robert Abela is facing mounting pressure as former government ministers Chris Fearne and Edward Scicluna, along with several others, are set to face criminal charges in court on May 29, 2024, in connection with the controversial Vitals hospitals deal. The charges, which include fraud amounting to €5,000, misappropriation, and making fraudulent gains, come on the heels of former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's scheduled court appearance on May 28 to face charges of money laundering, bribery, and criminal association.

Why this matters: The Vitals hospitals deal scandal has far-reaching implications for Malta's government and institutions, as it raises questions about corruption and accountability among high-ranking officials. The outcome of these court proceedings will have a significant impact on the public's trust in the government and its ability to address corruption.

Chris Fearne, who served as Deputy Prime Minister, tendered his resignation from the Labour cabinet last week, maintaining his innocence but emphasizing that stepping down was "the right thing to do. " Prime Minister Abela expressed pride in his past collaboration with Fearne but has not taken action to remove Central Bank Governor Edward Scicluna from his position, despite Scicluna facing criminal charges related to the Vitals deal from his time as Finance Minister.

The Vitals hospitals deal, which saw three Maltese hospitals transferred to Vitals Global Healthcare and later passed on to Steward Health Care, has been shrouded in controversy. A court case initiated by PN MP Adrian Delia in 2023 annulled the deal, citing fraud, with the decision confirmed on appeal and mentioning collusion. The magisterial inquiry into the deal, launched in 2019 after criminal complaints filed by civil society NGO Repubblika, has now concluded, leading to the criminal charges against Muscat, Fearne, Scicluna, and others.

Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Abela to take action against Scicluna, with the Nationalist Party, ADPD, and 17 civil society organisations demanding his resignation or removal. The civil society groups are planning a national protest on Thursday to demand accountability and justice. Speaker Anġlu Farruġia rejected a motion by Opposition Leader Bernard Grech to suspend the House's agenda for discussion on the lack of resignations from Scicluna and Permanent Secretary Ronald Mizzi, who also faces charges in the case.

As Malta grapples with this unfolding national crisis, the arraignment of Chris Fearne, Edward Scicluna, and others on May 29, along with Joseph Muscat's court appearance on May 28, marks a significant moment in the country's political landscape. The outcome of these court proceedings and Prime Minister Robert Abela's response to the mounting pressure will have far-reaching implications for Malta's government and the public's trust in its institutions.

Key Takeaways

  • Malta's former ministers Chris Fearne and Edward Scicluna face criminal charges on May 29, 2024, over the Vitals hospitals deal.
  • Fearne resigned as Deputy Prime Minister, maintaining innocence, while Scicluna remains Central Bank Governor despite charges.
  • Prime Minister Robert Abela faces pressure to act against Scicluna, with opposition parties and civil society groups demanding his resignation.
  • The Vitals deal scandal has far-reaching implications for Malta's government and institutions, raising questions about corruption and accountability.
  • Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will face charges of money laundering, bribery, and criminal association on May 28, 2024.