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28th Jan 2023

Caruana Galizia family urges EU not to fund 'corrupt' gas pipeline

  • Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb in October 2017 (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)
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The family of the late journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has urged the EU to deny funding to a major gas pipeline project linked to a power station co-owned by the businessman who is on trial for her murder.

EU energy ministers are pushing to allow two major gas pipelines in Cyprus and Malta to be eligible for public funds, and fast-tracked permits - an exemption from updated rules currently being negotiated.

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This concession would ensure the completion of the €400m Melita pipeline, designed to transport gas from Libya to Malta and Italy, using EU funds.

However, the family of Caruana Galizia has warned that the owners of Electrogas power station, located in Delimara, could also benefit from EU funds – including a man accused of commissioning the assassination of the journalist.

Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb close to her home in October 2017, at the time when she was investigating an Electrogas energy deal.

"It is absolutely unacceptable that public funds are used for such project, which is not only going to be environmentally damaging … but it is also going to reward people who are accused of murder and serious high-level corruption that led to the murder of a journalist," Matthew Caruana Galizia said during a press briefing on Wednesday (8 December).

"This goes completely against any principles of morality and justice," he added.

The family has called on the Maltese government to rescind all agreements with Electrogas and hold its shareholders accountable.

They argued that, according to the terms of Malta's deal with Electrogas, the construction of the Melita pipeline will trigger a payout of over €100m to the shareholders, possibly including the person charged with murder.

Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech, who was caught trying to flee the country on a yacht in 2019, is accused of masterminding Daphne's assassination. He is currently awaiting trial.

"Sending a message that corruption is rewarded will make our situation many times worse than it already is, and for no public benefit whatsoever — not that any would justify rewarding someone accused of murder, as well as rewarding the corporations that benefited from murder and corruption," they wrote in a letter sent to the Slovenian presidency on 3 December.

'Real public scandal'

A new round of negotiations on the revision of the so-called TEN-E regulation, which governs funding for energy infrastructure, will take place next week – possibly putting an end to long and intensive discussions.

"This is for me, first and foremost, a question of moral credibility of the EU and EU institutions," said liberal MEP Claudia Gamon, who is leading the negotiations over this file.

"It would not make any difference if they were building a wind power plant. It shouldn't be funded with EU money if it is directly related to a corruption scandal and the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia," she added, arguing that this is a "real public scandal".

Gamon also pointed out that she had received a letter from Maltese energy minister and former MEP Miriam Dalli, praising the projects but ignoring corruption allegations.

"I find it particularly offensive that there was no word on the allegations made on what are transparent connections between the murder allegations and this pipeline project," Gamon also said.

The Maltese government has argued that EU funds will enable the so-called "hydrogen-ready" pipeline to be constructed by 2028, when the contract with Electrogas would have terminated.

For her part, Green MEP Marie Toussaint, who is also leading negotiations over the TEN-E regulation, said on Wednesday that "without democracy there is no successful fight against climate change".

"We are really living in a moment of truth for the EU, the European Commission and the European Council," she added.

The EU Commission said that it had not had any contact with Electrogas, and that they are not the project promoter of the Melita pipeline.

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