LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The largest drug haul ever made in Maltàs history has taken place at the Freeport thanks to the Malta Customs Department. 612 kg of cocaine were discovered concealed within pallets that were carrying cooking oil. The cargo left Ecuador and transited through Colombia before being intercepted by Customs in Malta en-route to Libya.
Discrepancies in the scanning image of the cargo lead the Customs officials to carry out a physical inspection on the container’s load. The pallets, carrying the freight, appeared dense compared to regular images and, subsequently, officials offloaded and dismantled one of the pallets. The inspection lead to the discovery of packets concealed within the pallet’s structure, and contained a white substance which gave a positive indication for cocaine. A total of 510 packets were elevated, weighing 1.2kg each, for a total of a 612 kg haul. The street value of these narcotics amount to 69 million euro. The case was handed over to the Police Drug Squad in Malta for further investigations, while the duty Magistrate was informed about the haul and assigned several court experts to assist.
VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe described as “fundamentally unsatisfactory” Maltàs response to its recommendations on ensuring justice for the assassination of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and the strengthening of the rule of law in the country.
Eighteen months ago, the assembly made several recommendations to Malta.
The committee said that the implementation of the recommendations on ensuring justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia remained “fundamentally unsatisfactory, with no final results”. The report slams Maltàs response on ending impunity for high-level corruption as “entirely unsatisfactory” while the response on strengthening the rule of law in Malta was “unsatisfactory overall, with mixed results”. The committee also called on the Maltese government to “refrain from any attempt to impose an arbitrary time-limit” on the work of the independent public inquiry currently under way.
On Monday, Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela said that he is still expecting the public inquiry to conclude by the deadline he had set – 15 December. He insisted that the inquiry had been given enough time to fulfil its mandate.
Meanwhile, Dutch MEP Sophie in’t Veld has written a letter to the Maltese Prime Minister calling on him to allow the public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia the time needed, and not until December 15.
In September 2019, the Maltese government had announced the launch of a public inquiry into the assassination of Caruana Galizia who was killed by a car bomb outside her home in Bidnija on 16 October 2017.
In its reaction, the Maltese government said that in the past months, it carried out unprecedented Constitutional and Institutional reforms which were positively received by the Venice Commission within the Council of Europe, and the European Commission.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese authorities have confiscated a huge quantity of ‘Jihadist drugs’ as part of an international operation ‘Peacock Pills’.
According to offical report, the Maltese Customs have seized 225 million drug pills, mostly ‘Tramadol’. These are used as painkillers made of synthetic opium and are known to be used by fundamentalist Islamic groups.
The amounts seized by the Maltese Customs are in large doses. According to investigators, it is believed that these were destined to fighters. No further information was released by the Maltese authorities. However these drugs are used for severe pain treatment. However, according to medical reports, the drug is also used to increase endurance strength and to alter the senses.
During Operation Peacock Pills, almost 1.2 billion pills were seized. The seized drugs by the Maltese Customs account for 20% of the total seizure. The value is considered to reach about 1.2 billion.The Maltese authorities took part in a similar operation in 2015, 2016 and 2018.
In 2017, Italy’s financial police revealed that they had uncovered 37.5m pills of tramadol, also used by Islamist fighters. The cargo was heading for Libya. According to the Italian police, the consignment had arrived from India and would have been used for two purposes: to help finance Islamist terrorism and for use by jihadist fighters as a stimulant and to heighten resistance to physical stress.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) Malta has published its strategy for anti-COVID vaccination. Addressing the Maltese Parliament, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health, Chris Fearne, announced that the first vaccinations will be given in January.
The first doses will be given to the health workers, residents at homes for the elderly, residents of mental care institutions and all elderly over 85 years of age.
In February, the vaccine will be available to all front-liners and elderly over 80 years of age.
The next phase will include patients with chronic diseases and elderly over the age of 75 years together with all child carers.
In the fourth phase all people over 55 years will be vaccinated.
The Maltese Government bought one million and 600 doses from two companies – Pfizer and Astrazeneca. Another 700,000 vaccines from another three companies have been ordered, however, the research of these companies is still slightly behind. He confirmed that the European Union acted as intermediary to guarantee the advantageous prices.
The Maltese Deputy Prime Minister explained that Pfizer’s vaccine is at the most advanced stage with over 150 technical trial in six countries. The European Union is pledging to approve the vaccine by 29 December.
The authorization of Modernàs vaccine is expected to be given in January. While Astrazeneca should be available by February – March.
The Maltese government said that the vaccine will not be mandatory and will be free of charge. The Pfizer vaccine need to be kept in temperatures of -70C. Two injections are required for the medication to be effective. The vaccinations need to be taken within 21 days.
During the last 24 hours, the Maltese health authorities have confirmed four more deaths due to COVID-19. The pandemic has claimed 159 lives while 2,007 are still active.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Two Italian men were arraigned before court on Friday after they wew arrested in a police anti-drug operation. The police captured 55kg of cannabis with a street value of about 750,000 euro. The Police also arrested another Italian man, 54 in connection with this attempt to smuggle cannabis in Malta. He was waiting for the arrival of the boat. However he is still under police custody for further investigations.
The cannabis was found in different plastic bags hidden in different parts of a boat. The Drug Squad has been keeping surveillance on the movements of a fishing boat for the past weeks.
Members of the Police Drug Squad and Rapid Intervention Unit surrounded the boat and arrested the men as soon as the boat docked at the pier in Marsascala, south of Malta. One of the men on the boat tried to escape by jumping into the sea but was arrested immediately.
The three Italian men have residency permits in Malta. Small amount of cannabis and cocaine were also found during searches at the residences of the Italians.
The police in Malta seized IPTV equipment from an individual following searches made in three different properties belonging to the same person. A judicial warrant was issued to search and seize all illegal equipment and devices following a request by the Italian authorities regarding illegal use of IPTV service in connection to ‘Operation Perfect Storm’.
In Malta, the operation was coordinated by the Financial Crimes Investigation Department and the Cybercrime Unit of the Malta Police Force. The searches were carried out on two premises in Qormi and one in St Paul’s Bay.
During the raid, the police found equipment used for the diffusion of IPTV signal including around 150 devices, together with approximately 48 Smart Satellite Cards, two smartphones and around 13,000 euros in cash. A spokesperson for the Maltese in Malta said that investigations are still ongoing.
On the same day, the Maltese government lauched a programme of mass events in Valletta for the Christmas season, the local health authorities confirmed three elderly persons have died after being found positive for Covid-19. This brings the total of victims up to 81.
The Ministry for Health announced that the 3 deaths in 24 hours; a 79-year old man was confirmed positive on the 1st of November, an 87-year old man and a 75-year old man whowere confirmed positive on the 3rd of November. In the last 24 hours, Malta has registered 153 new coronavirus cases. The number of active cases stands at 2,041 after 89 patients recovered from the virus.
Robert Abela, the Maltese Prime Minister has ruled out any form of lockdown. Opinion polls show a majority of Maltese are against a lockdown. “At this time, we want to keep the Christmas spirit alive while continuing to help and support the local industry. We believe that this balance can be achieved through an ongoing economic activity even when it comes to Christmas shopping, while people keep following the necessary precautions,” said Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli.
However, the Medical Association of Malta, MAM, has condemned the attitude of Prime Minister Robert Abela and of Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli, saying they are deliberately ignoring scientific advice in the thick of a pandemic. “COVID-19 will not kill Christmas but will kill more vulnerable Maltese people,” said the Association.
The Medical Association of Malta noted the increase of serious illness and deaths from COVID-19. Further to the three deaths confirmed in the last 24 hours, there are 80 very seriously ill patients at Mater Dei Hospital with coronavirus, excluding the 3 smaller hospitals, 12 of which are in intensive care.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela declared that a total lockdown is not in the government’s plans to combat COVID-19. Malta is experiencing an increase in daily deaths and in new cases related to coronavirus.
Malta has registered eight deaths since last Wednesday; five cases were confirmed on Thursday and another two early Friday morning. So far, a total of 73 deaths were confirmed while 1,929 cases are still active. The Maltese health authorities registered 6,764 cases since the start of the pandemic in March.
Local medical associations declared that further restrictive measures should be reintroduced to fight the increase in new positive cases. The health services in Malta are facing a crises, and the medical associations representing various health professions said that “the situation in local hospitals will only get worse if such restrictions are not in place and enforced.”
In a joint statement, the thirteen medical associatons said that the Maltese government should avoid scenes such as those witnessed in Bergamo, Italy in March and April.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta adopted new measures to combat the transmission of COVID-19 on the local health authorities’ recommendation. The new measures will help further to tighten social distancing.
As of from today, all bars and local band clubs will remain closed until 1 December 6 am. Furthermore, only 6 people can convene in public spaces instead of 10. Ignoring these measures will result in a 200 fine.
The Covid-19 caseload currently stands at 1,927 positive cases and the total number of deaths has reached 59. The number of new registered cases still outstrips recoveries by far.
Today, the Maltese government announced 106 new cases. Few minutes before, the health authorities had confirmed that two men have lost their battle with COVID-19. The men were 82 and 66 respectively. Both men were in the Intensive Therapy Unit when they died.
Health professionals working at the Intensive Therapy Unit warned that if the government does not take further difficult decisions, more delay in controlling the spread can have a devastating effect on Maltàs health system. At the moment 15 patients are receiving treatment at the Intensive Therapy Unit, described as “a very serious matter” by the health professionals.
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Italian Ambassador to Malta, who will be terminating his mission in the coming weeks, paid a farewell visit to the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Evarist Bartolo.
The meeting was an opportunity to review the main issues on the bilateral, European and international agenda upon which there is a strong harmony between the two countries. Both countries are strongly committed, among other things, to the stability of the central Mediterranean, a shared management of migratory flows at European level as well as the protection of the marine environment and its resources.
The Ambassador expressed his deep appreciation to the Minister for the commitment made to confirm and strengthen the values of the rule of law even in the most dramatic of circumstances that Malta experienced in the past months.
Both Ambassador Sammartino and Minister Bartolo agreed on the necessity to ensure cohesion and collaboration at the European level to counter the COVID-19 pandemic and its serious repercussions on the economic and social conditions of the two countries.