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Local News

Provided by: Times of Malta

Based on news feeds downloaded at: 01/03/2017 18:31:37

OSCE Freedom Representative to hold more talks on new media law

Media law draft.

Dunja Mijatovi , Representative on Freedom of the Media at the OSCE has welcomed several proposals in Malta's new proposed media law but called for further talks on provisions such as the registration of website editors and limitations on protection of sources. The OSCE Organisation on Security and Cooperation in Europe conducted its legal analysis following a request by the Minister of Justice, Owen Bonnici. I welcome several provisions of the draft law, which, if adopted, would offer increased protection for journalistic work, Mijatovi said. These provisions include the decriminalization of certain offences related to the activities of journalists and media outlets, the introduction of limits for civil liability in libel cases and the lowering of responsibility of website editors. She said that the dialogue with the authorities in Malta would continue in the coming weeks, as the legal analysis also pointed to certain elements in the draft law that need further improvement. Provisions granting special protection to public figures should be reconsidered, as well as the obligation for website editors to register before the Media Registrar. Source protection should be...
Carnival generated 20 tons of waste in Valletta, Floriana

The Carnival festivities generated some 20 tons of waste in Valletta and Floriana, but the Infrastructure Ministry said its workers efficiently carried out clean-ups on all Carnival nights, using bowsers to wash the streets. Last night, as soon as the defile' was over in St Anne Street, Floriana, some 25 workers moved in to clean up the road and its environs, using water bowsers. St Anne Street was reopened after about two hours. The streets of Valletta and St George's Square were similarly cleaned. Of the 20 tons of waste collected, 11 tons were generated yesterday, which was the final night. An extra 100 waste bins were provided for the Carnival days. The ministry said officials will assess what went on over the past days for better coordination in the future, particularly over when the kiosks should be removed.
Thick sewage reappears at Ras il- ob , Gozo

   The dirty brown watery sludge stank and was everywhere.

Divers at Ras il- ob in Gozo, close to M arr ix-Xini, were met with thick sewage pouring into the sea for five hours on Sunday, the latest in a series of incidents which have continued for four years without an apparent solution. Mike Bugeja said he had taken a group of divers to the area, which is close to a sewage treatment plant, only to find an unbearable smell and water so clouded by the outflow that they were unable to see each other. The drainage was escaping from one of three square concrete structures on the upper car park and flowing rapidly down the road into the salt pans below and then into the sea, Mr Bugeja said. The dirty, brown, watery sludge stank, and was everywhere. An environmental disaster for the many species of fish life and a known area for seahorses. This also could be a health issue to bathers, divers and dog walkers. Mr Bugeja said he had written to the authorities over the matter and intended to follow up until a solution to the long-standing problem was found. This is the second time this year the same diver has flagged the issue at Ras il- ob . In a statement, the Water Services Corporation said it was aware of the problem and working to find...
EU survey shows strong economic optimism in Malta

The government has hailed an EU-wide survey showing business optimism at its highest in Malta. The survey, commissioned by the European Commission, shows the index of economic sentiment in February at 115, the highest among EU states, and, the government said, 25 per cent higher than in February of the last year of the former government. Nearly all economic sectors were positive, with the highest optimism shown by those in the services sector, at almost three times the level in the rest of the EU. There was also strong positive economic sentiment among retailers, while in manufacturing, orders were almost double the eurozone average and many respondents said they expected to take on more workers. Consumers in Malta reported that they expected their financial situation to continue to improve, in contrast to pessimism in most EU countries. The data showed that economic growth was benefiting Maltese businesses and families, the government said.
Man gets probation for embezzling company funds

An accountant clerk, found guilty of embezzling company funds, was placed under probation and ordered to refund the money taken from his former employer. Sandro Grima, 46, was charged with defrauding Megaline (M&E) Limited out of 368,621 over a period of three years between August 2007 and August 2010. The man was also charged breaching the conditions of an earlier suspended sentence. The court, presided by magistrate Antonio Micallef Trigona, heard that the managing director of the company had requested the police to investigate the suspected fraud. The accused, who at the time was on the company's payroll, was interrogated and charged in court where he ultimately admitted to the fraud and promised to refund the embezzled sums. The court, after chiding the accused for his "irresponsible and deplorable act", declared him guilty and placed him under a three-year probation order on condition that he would repay all the money taken from his former employer.
Parents plead to get their daughter back

The parents of a young girl who was taken away from their custody last December following suspicion of abuse have called on the courts to remedy the situation. The girl was taken away from school by social workers after teachers reported she had been playing with dolls in a manner suggestive of abuse. It is unacceptable that an inquiry revolving around the behaviour of a seven-year-old girl with a doll has not been completed after almost 80 days... it emerges clearly that the state has totally failed to safeguard against the breakup of a family, the parents said in their application to court. The state should make an effort to find other methods to protect children and not resort to the most draconian solution that has shattered this family," they added. They said the girl has suffered irreparable harm and trauma by being uprooted from her family and made to live with strangers. Certainly all this was not done with the best interests of the child in mind, the parents claimed. They called upon the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police to either take legal action against them for the alleged abuse or annul the care order. The parents explained they were informed...
Aggressive son who kicked his father relentlessly given last chance to change his ways

A drug addict who flew into a violent temper and assaulted his father when the latter refused to hand over cash to fuel his habit has been placed under a two-year probation order after admitting to the aggression in court. David Bonnici, 35, from ebbu , attacked and slightly injured his father during an argument inside the family home in May 2013. The father filed a police report and the son was arrested and charged. The court, presided by Magistrate Josette Demicoli, heard how the accused regularly bullied his father to obtain money for drugs. However, on the day of the incident, the father decided to put his foot down. Refusing to take no for an answer, the accused flew into a rage, pushed his father and kicked him relentlessly as the latter lay on the floor. The court heard that the accused had started to follow a rehabilitation programme but failed to complete it. It declared the accused guilty and placed him under a two-year probation order as a last chance to reform himself and seek help for his drug-related problems. Inspector Roderick Agius prosecuted.
Drug addict to be repatriated after serving 7-year jail term

A Sicilian national with an expensive drug habit has been handed a seven-year jail term after he admitted to multiple charges of theft and damage to third party property exceeding 100,000 in value. Carmelo Ciranna, 41, committed nine cases of aggravated theft and several others of damage to third party property over a two-month span between December and January. The court, presided by Magistrate Joe Mifsud, heard how the accused had targeted various private residences in Birkirkara, Attard, Marsascala and abbar and a service station in Qormi. The booty included expensive jewellery, cash, designer watches and bag, a camera, a Samsung TV, two laptops and two car batteries worth 500. The court noted that the accused, who pleaded guilty to all the charges, was a relapser and had also violated two probation sentences. The court remarked that all those visiting Malta, whether for work or leisure, "ought to abide strictly by our laws". Although those who ignore the law are a minority, the court urged the authorities to wield power in such a way as to treat these wrongdoers with a firm hand, even taking "drastic measures" when necessary. The court concluded by declaring the accused...
Choice of person to head inquiry defends action of corrupt politicians - PN

The choice of Frank Testa to lead the investigation on alleged political interference by government politicians in a drug trafficking case in Gozo showed that the Prime Minister was defending the actions of those politicians, the Nationalist Party said today. An inquiry into allegations that two Gozitans who admitted to trafficking drugs were allowed to change their police statements following political intervention was announced on Sunday after a story about the allegations appeared in Malta Today. The case reportedly dates back to 2013. In a statement today, the PN said that after taking two days to appoint the inquiry, which was enough time for the evidence to be put at risk, the Prime Minister chose to head the inquiry a person who was close to the corrupt clique including Minister Manuel Mallia, who was in charge of the police force when the case took place. The Prime Minister, the PN said, should immediately publish the inquiry s terms of reference, give its deadline, say if there were other people assisting Mr Testa, and say if the names of the politicians involved had been discussed in cabinet. This was a serious and sensitive case but the Prime Minister had once again...
US ambassador is in the House - access to Parliament area is blocked

Access to the environs of the Parliament building in Valletta was blocked by police officers today because the US ambassador is inside the building . While the building was surrounded by policemen in Republic Street to prevent people from getting close, other policemen at the back of the open theatre made sure pedestrians also kept away from that side.
Mother forges cheques to pay for daughter's medical treatment in UK

A mother's desperate bid to provide her daughter with medical treatment abroad landed her in court on charges of forging documents for unlawful profit. The 31-year old mother, whose name cannot be published by court order, stole a cheque book and forged the signature on two cheques in the hope of obtaining the necessary funds to pay for her daughter's medical trip to the UK. The court, presided by magistrate Joseph Mifsud, heard how the accused then proceeded to cash the cheques at a petrol station and a lotto booth respectively. The mother's wrongdoing was soon uncovered and she ended up in court where she pleaded guilty to the criminal charges instituted against her. The court, whilst acknowledging the wrong perpetrated by the accused, issued a strong warning against the defrauded owners. They ought not to have cashed the cheques in the first place. It was only upon discovering that they had been cheated out of their cash that they sought recourse before the courts, the magistrate remarked. Noting the medical certificate confirming the girl's illness, the court chided the woman for having resorted to such unlawful measures when she could have turned to the Malta Community...
Ryanair adds three more routes, surpasses Air Malta

Low cost carrier Ryanair has become Malta's largest airline surpassing Air Malta for the first time last year. Gaining a share of 36% of all passengers arriving in Malta, the Irish airline announced the introduction of three new connections as from next winter - Naples, Belfast and Riga - pushing its routes up to 40 next winter. Ryanair's chief commercial officer David O'Brian said that the airline also planned to increase frequencies to six new destinations including Venice, Stockholm and Gdansk. He said that Ryanair was in Malta to stay and was planning to expand further. It was competing on few routes with Air Malta and would continue to grow independently of any decision taken regarding the national airline.
Tourist arrivals increase by 22 per cent in January

Tourist arrivals in January reached 104,069 a 21.8 per cent increase when compared to the same month last year. The National Statistics Office said 91,554 trips were for holiday purposes, 8,735 for business. Arrivals from EU states went up by 27.4 per cent to 90,541. The majority of tourists were aged between 25 and 44, followed by those within the 45-64 age bracket.Total nights spent went up by 12.3 per cent, amounting to 737,311 nights. Tourist nights in private accommodation increased by 26.9 per cent and expenditure, estimated at 70.8 million, by 8.6 per cent. Total nights spent went up by 12.3 per cent, amounting to 737,311 nights. Tourist nights in private accommodation increased by 26.9 per cent and expenditure, estimated at 70.8 million, by 8.6 per cent.
Prime Minister in meetings in Bucharest and Athens

Updated 3.50pm - Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had meetings in Bucharest and Athens today, meeting Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Prime Minister Sorin Mihai Grindeanu and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsiprasas. Dr Muscat is on a whirlwind tour of European capitals, discussing the agenda of the Maltese EU presidency with a special focus on a 'social Europe' and job creation. Other subjects discussed in the two meetings included solidarity, immigration and Brexit.
Watch: PA votes against transformation of Sliema townhouse into hotel

   The new hotel will take away the last bit of natural light.    Photo:   Matthew Mirabelli

Updated at 11am with PA's refusal The Planning Authority this morning heeded residents' pleas and voted against the transformation of a 155-year old townhouse in Sliema to an eight-storey hotel. Ahead of today's hearing, Sliema residents living next door to the proposed hotel have appealed to the Planning Authority not to rob their homes of natural light and peace and quiet. But the townhouse owner insisted he was just a victim of the same problems, and was simply trying to sell the black hole and buy a new house somewhere decent . The house in St Mary s Street is part of a well-preserved row of historic houses marred only by one newer development. The case was recommended for approval but the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage (SCH) said the house, built in 1861, had historical value and should be retained. Some 40 separate objections were filed, including by the Sliema council and environmental organisations. Neighbouring residents spoke to the media yesterday alongside Flimkien G al Ambjent A jar representatives, appealing to the PA to heed their concerns and block the application. There s already one monstrosity here, and now another one is coming, resident Joseph...
New judge Toni Abela to begin hearing cases

Judge Toni Abela has been assigned work on pending civil cases. Photo:   Mark Zammit Cordina

Former Labour Party deputy leader Toni Abela, appointed judge by the government last November, can finally start his job on the bench, the Times of Malta is informed. Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri has decided that Mr Justice Abela, three months since taking his oath, is to work on a number of cases to relieve the burden of a long backlog facing Mr Justice Joseph Micallef. He has been singled out as the judge with the longest list of pending cases. According to statistics obtained by this newspaper, Mr Justice Micallef had 616 pending cases at the end of last year. The Chief Justice has decided that Mr Justice Micallef is to stop hearing new cases in order to concentrate on his backlog. READ: Lawyers want 'fleshed out' guidelines for vetting judicial candidates In the meantime, Mr Justice Abela will step into Mr Justice Micallef s shoes by handling all new cases at the first hall of the civil court. Mr Justice Abela has also been assigned work on a number of pending civil cases currently before other members of the judiciary. According to the Chief Justice, the only exception in Mr Justice Abela s case is that he will not hear cases of a constitutional nature, as these will...
Main risk to Enemalta is further energy tariff cuts - S&P

The power station at Delimara. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

The temptation of further energy tariff cuts was the main risk Enemalta was exposed to, Standard & Poor s said in a recent report. The credit rating agency said the government could be tempted to make additional tariff reductions in future, given the significant impact previous cuts had had on the demand for power. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has so far dismissed calls by the Opposition and various business associations to further slash energy rates. Family Minister Michael Farrugia told a press conference yesterday the government s decision to reduce tariffs after the 2013 election had helped spur economic growth and reduce poverty. The government estimates that the tariff reductions inject 80 million a year into the economy. Dr Muscat said on Sunday the previous government had planned to further raise energy tariffs after the 2013 election. Standard & Poor s said that the 2018 election would test Enemalta s resilience with regard to its exposure to potentially adverse energy policy decisions. It said that the presence of a minority shareholder in Enemalta, Shanghai Electric, would reduce the risk of political interference on the tariff-setting mechanism in the future. The...
Today's newspapers in review

The Times of Malta says that according to credit rating agency Standard & Poor s, the temptation of further energy tariff cuts is the main risk Enemalta is exposed to. In another story, the paper reports that investigators have shifted their attention to murder victim David Abela s personal life in a bid to understand what could have been the motive behind his murder. Mr Abela, 51, was found naked and tied up in his home in a quiet Swieqi residential area on Monday evening. He was stabbed five times, including in the neck and chest. The Malta Independent says that Jean-Claude Junker will be presenting the European Commission's post-Brexit white paper today. In-Nazzjon says the Prime Minister has announced an inquiry two days after the emergence of a new scandal of political interference in a drug trafficking case. L-Orizzont says that according to The Economist, Malta is one of 18 countries in the world enjoying full democracy.
Biker grievously injured in Sliema accident

A man was grievously injured today following a collision between the motorcycle he was riding and a car in Sliema. The police said the accident happened in Rudolph Street at 2am. The 29-year-old Finnish victim, who lives in Msida, was involved in a collision with a car driven by a 35-year-old Spanish woman, who lives in Sliema.
Watch: Malta's 2017 carnival in pictures

Carnival celebrations draw to a close this evening following four days of colour, costumes and music. Thousands made a beeline for Nadur to indulge in the irreverence that characterises the town's celebrations, while others headed for Valletta to admire the carnival floats and choreographed dancers that paraded through the city. A big defile on Floriana's main thoroughfare, accompanied by a fireworks display, will bring the curtain down on this year's celebrations. But Times of Malta readers have reported that while revellers celebrated, commuters trying to leave the capital city were frustrated by gridlock caused by the closing party. Send your photos and comments to mynews@timesofmalta.com
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