Muscat slams charges against Fredrick Azzopardi: ‘This mistaken decision carries consequences’

Joseph Muscat accuses institutions of crumbling to pressure, calling the decision to prosecute the former infrastructure agency boss a ‘tick the box exercise’

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has slammed the “tick the box exercise” which will see the former infrastructure agency boss charged for environmental crimes.

“I feel it is my job to defend citizens from the institutions which crumble at the first signs of pressure,” he said in a Facebook post. “To be clear, I am not referring to the Labour government, but to individuals who rightly have the autonomy to take decisions.”

The Times reported on Sunday on how former Infrastructure Malta boss Fredrick Azzopardi is set to be charged in court with breaking environment protection laws during his time in charge of the roadworks agency.

He will be charged over the unauthorised works carried out by the roads agency where the country path in Wied Qirda, Zebbug was widened and tarmacked over, and the topography of the valley was changed.

Independent candidate Arnold Cassola has filed a criminal complaint with the police over illegal works carried out by Infrastructure Malta. The complainant said all works in the sensitive valley were done without a permit. The agency had also ignored a stop order issued by the Environment and Resources Authority.

Taking to Facebook, Muscat defended the agency’s works at the valley, saying Azzopardi was carrying out his work. “There might be a technical argument to be made, but prosecution cannot be justified.”

He said it was a “tick the box exercise” which dumps the decision on the courts, for the sake of crucifying an individual. “Then, months and years later, the person walks free. But in the interim, they are crucified."

Muscat said lawyer friends of his have remarked that there are “obvious legal points” which will nullify the case.

“This mistaken decision carries consequences. Someone must be held responsible,” the former PM warned.

ONE chairman Jason Micallef also weighed in, questioning Azzopardi’s prosecution. In his own Facebook post, he said that he doubts whether any other government agency CEO had ever been prosecuted for something similar.

Cassola reacts

In his reaction, Cassola assured Muscat that the “usual people” will not stop “at ensuring that those who have ruined Malta's environment, reputation and honour are brought to book.”

“The man who has allowed our country to be robbed by Electrogas, Vitals, AUM and Pilatus, whilst he continued to befriend a known suspected assassin, should hide his face in shame rather than appeal to the thousands of people who, he states, follow him,” Cassola said.

He said that Muscat failed to mention that Azzopardi is married to his cousin.

“Justice must be done not only with Joseph Muscat, but also with all those whom he used to rape our country environmentally and financially,” he said. “A true socialist should appeal to the masses to safeguard the common good of the Maltese people and not only when a relative of his is involved in misdeeds.”