Times of Malta

WWII performer’s friend Lisa found 70 years later
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More than 70 years after she was photographed walking alongside Christina Ratcliffe, a cabaret performer decorated for her wartime efforts, Lisa Mallia will relive the “harshest yet loveliest years”. On Friday, Ms Mallia will watch a musical called Star of Strait Street about her post-WWII friend, whom she met aged eight in the Morning Star club on St Nicholas Street, Valletta. In March, this newspaper ran an article about Ms Ratcliffe, who landed in Malta as a cabaret performer and later enrolled as a civilian plotter in the Operations Room in Lascaris. The people behind the play, by Philip Glassborow, asked readers whether they knew Lisa, a girl who appeared in a couple of photos with Ms Ratcliffe. “My sister Rosie saw the article and called me up. When she mentioned Christina, I didn’t let her finish her sentence. I immediately asked: ‘Christina of the Morning Star?’” Ms Mallia, née Debattista, told the Times of Malta. The woman, aged 80 years and two months, was born, raised and married in Valletta. Despite moving to Cospicua, she inched her way back to the capital, moving to Floriana and then Valletta, but she soon had to leave for St Paul’s Bay because of her husband’s...

Manchester United outclass Ajax to win Europa League
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Manchester United's Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored a goal in each half as their team comfortably outclassed Ajax Amsterdam to win an emotional Europa League final 2-0 and qualify for the group stages of the Champions League. A minute's silence held for the victims of Monday's suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester in which 22 people died turned into applause as chants of "Manchester" and "We'll Never Die" bellowed out from the English supporters before the match. World record signing Pogba opened the scoring in the 18th minute as United won the ball after an Ajax throw-in, the Frenchman's shot taking a wicked deflection to wrong-foot goalkeeper Andre Onana and fly into the net. Mkhitaryan then flicked the ball home early in the second half following a corner and, with chants of "Manchester, Manchester" echoing around the stadium, United held on to win the one European trophy missing from the Old Trafford cabinet. "We know things like this are very sad all over the world," said Pogba referring to the attack. "We had to focus. Manchester - we won for them. We played for England, we played for Manchester and we played for them -- the people who died." "The goal...

All 111 children who went missing in 2016 were found
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In Malta, in 2016, as many as 111 children went missing but in all instances they were found and returned home, according to the Missing Children Europe report issued to mark International Missing Children’s Day tomorrow. A large number of the cases involved adolescents who failed to return home when expected, and six children who were abducted by a parent. Malta has a number of international instruments at its disposal to solve cases of child abduction, notably Amber Alert, which helps trace abducted children across borders, and the Hague Convention. However, the need is felt for a stronger deterrent to prevent cases of parental child abduction, the Office of the Commissioner for Children said, adding that it has been working hand in hand with the Office of the Attorney General to spearhead amendments to the law in this regard. • The report features the evolution and trends on missing children cases in Europe handled by hotlines for missing children and the Cross-Border Family Mediators’ Network. Hotlines for missing children are available through the same phone number – 116 000 – in 31 countries in Europe, including Malta. • Since 2015, this network of hotlines has helped an...

Poorly understood Mars landing conditions led to probe’s demise
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Europe's Schiaparelli spacecraft came very close to a successful landing on Mars last year, but engineers failed to realize how jarring the probe's parachute descent could be, dooming the touchdown, a report released today said. Video above shows have the spacecraft should have landed. Schiaparelli flew to Mars with the Trace Gas Orbiter, which is studying gases in the planet’s atmosphere from orbit. The lander crashed during an attempted touchdown on Oct. 19. Schiaparelli flew to Mars with the Trace Gas Orbiter, which is studying gases in the planet’s atmosphere from orbit. The lander crashed during an attempted touchdown on Oct. 19. Its parachute worked as designed, but atmospheric forces at supersonic speed were not well understood, the report, commissioned by the European Space Agency, said. "The software behaved the way it was supposed to," David Parker, ESA head of robotic exploration said in an interview. "It should have been anticipated that the (spacecraft) rotation could reach the maximum. The software could have been more robust had it been more cleverly designed." Miscommunication between contractors Thales Alenia Space and Honeywell contributed to the problem,...

Malta warned about risks of political parties owning media outlets
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Malta should revise its public service media legislation to include safeguards against political interference, a European-wide study suggests. The lack of independence in terms of the governance and funding of such media was indicated as a particular issue of concern by national experts consulted during research on media pluralism. For the research, the ‘Media pluralism monitor’, designed to identify potential risks, was applied to 28 EU member states and two candidate countries (Montenegro and Turkey). Its report for 2016, published this month, concludes that none of these countries are free from risks for media pluralism. The data for Malta was collected by the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom between May and October of last year. A group of experts was also interviewed to ensure reliable findings. Commenting on public service media (PSM), in her conclusions on Malta, researcher Iva Nenadic notes there are no guarantees of independence because both the board of directors and the editorial board were directly appointed by the government. “Therefore, it is suggested to revise legislation on PSM regulation and appointments procedure to include safeguards from...

Watch: Joseph Muscat addresses Birkirkara activity
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Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this evening addressed a Labour Party campaign activity in Birkirkara. Watch the activity on the video above.

Watch: PN council approves electoral programme, Busuttil promises peace of mind
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The Nationalist Party this evening approved its electoral programme, promising tax cuts, major investment in transport systems and a commitment to clean up politics. The programme was drawn up together with the Democratic Party, whose candidates will feature on the PN ballot on election day.  The PN approved the programme at a meeting of its national council. Separate programmes were presented for Gozo and for young people. At the opening of the meeting, PN General Secretary Rosette Thake paid tribute to all those who took part in consultation meetings leading to the drawing up of the programmes. She said that while Labour under Joseph Muscat had tripped in its feet, the PN under Simon Busuttil was back on its feet. Beppe Fenech Adami, PN deputy leader for party affairs, said the 320 pledges in the electoral programme would turn the page for Malta. He said the cornerstone of the programme is a fight against corruption. Mario de Marco, PN deputy leader for parliamentary affairs, said this was a delicate time for Malta where the people needed to stand up to safeguard their country. He touched on economic issues, saying a new PN government would aim to raise the average wage by...

Naivety or a distraction from the real issues?
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A few weeks ago, a US-based group calling itself Veri Cattolici bought newspaper space for a full page advert saying that our bishops are unorthodox and are risking eternal damnation. Over the weekend another far-right and ‘Catholic’ conservative group came out of the woodwork. The self-styled 'Maltese Catholics United for the Faith.' whose members have not identified themselves, said they want to ‘save’ the Catholic faith. Catholics United for the Faith also exists in the United States. Malta's could be the local branch. Conservatives of the same feather flock together. The group's target this time was not the bishops but politicians. The group tarnished everyone with the same brush and said that (all) politicians are corrupt. Not to be outdone by Veri Cattolici the so-called Maltese Catholics United for the Faith also made references to possible eternal damnation. They described our political system as diabolical and appealed to voters to “call the Devil for what he truly is.” The Archbishop’s Curia very wisely and promptly dissociated itself from the group. What is irking the self-styled Maltese Catholics United for the Faith is gay marriage. They argue that one should not...

Internet satirists are Putin on a show
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  Claims of Russian secret service involvement in Malta's general election drew many shades of merriment today, as evidenced by some of the memes uploaded to social media. Here is a selection of some of the tongue-in-cheek internet responses to this morning's news.   

Many toddlers drown in latest migrants tragedy
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More than 30 migrants, mostly toddlers, drowned today when about 200 people without life jackets fell from a boat into the sea off the Libyan coast before they could be hauled into waiting rescue boats. The boat was near a rescue vessel when it suddenly listed and many migrants tumbled into the Mediterranean, Italian Coast Guard commander Cosimo Nicastro told Reuters. "At least 20 dead bodies were spotted in the water," he said. The rescue group MOAS, which also had a ship nearby, said it had already recovered more than 30 bodies. "Most are toddlers," the group's co-founder Chris Catrambone said on Twitter. The coast guard called in more ships to help with the rescue, saying about 1,700 people were packed into about 15 vessels in the area. The transfer from these overloaded boats is risky because desperate migrants in them sometimes surge to the side nearest a rescue vessel and destabilise their flimsy craft, which then list dangerously or capsize. More than 1,300 people have died this year on the world's most dangerous crossing for migrants fleeing poverty and war across Africa and the Middle East. Last Friday, more than 150 disappeared at sea, the International Organization...

Malta Independent

Busuttil pledges to decrease petrol and diesel prices by 5c/litre, electoral manifesto unveile
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The Nationalist Party is pledging to decrease the prices of petrol and diesel by 5c/litre and that Malta’s prices at the pumps will remain below the European average, Party Leader Simon Busuttil announced this evening. Dr Busuttil was speaking at the General Council, in the run up towards next week’s election, where the Forza Nazzjonali manifesto was unveiled. The snap election was called for 3 June by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.Out of the approximate 521 proposals presented in the Nationalist Party manifesto this evening, Party Leader Simon Busuttil said referred to the petrol pledge as being one of the pledges he is most fond of, however, the one closest to his heart is the cleaning of politics in Malta he said. “The proposal closest to my heart from the manifesto is to clean politics once and for all,” he said.Prior to this, he explained how three programs make up the electoral manifesto; one for Gozo, one for youth and another one more generic. There are 100,100 and 321 proposals in the programs respectively. Split up in three; one for Gozo, one for youth and the other general. “I will have these three programs in front of me to keep in mind everything we promised you.”Other proposals which he said were “close to his heart” include; income tax for small businesses and self-employed at 10% on first 50,000 profit, the creation of 30,000 “quality jobs” as well as putting the environment “in the heart of politics”. He went on to say that another proposal he is fond of in the manifesto, albeit “ambitious” is to have a metro as an alternative transport system, having free childcare for all, providing free medicines and increasing pension. “In politics you should serve people, and not have the people serving you,” he said. Dr Busuttil concluded by comparing journey of electoral campaign to marathon, with factors like resilience and determination, “and who works to arrive, does arrive,” he said.  Earlier Nationalist Party Deputy Leader Beppe Fenech Adami said that the foundation of the manifesto is the fighting against corruption. He said that the proposals aim at not creating a repetition of “what Joseph Muscat did in the past four years,” with regards to corruption, “but would rather create honest politics.” “Simon Busuttil will renew the code of ethics,” he said, “Joseph Muscat decreased the standards, Simon Busuttil will raise the standards.” He said, referring to the manifesto, that the first thing the party will do is get a new police commissioner who would make the police corps “feel proud” and who will immediately look into the  corruption which caused Joseph Muscat to call an election a year earlier, he said. Adding to this, another proposal is for an investigative magistrate to be appointed to investigated all allegations of corruption straight away, he said. He added that granting “favours” for specific people will be “a thing of the past.” “On 3 June this country will regain transparency and honesty, and I can assure you that justice will be granted,” he said. Secretary General Rosette Thake said that the responsibility in these general elections is in the hands of the population. “We need to build democracy anew, and if there is a party that can do that, it’s the Nationalist Party, and if there’s a person to do that, it’s Simon Busuttil,” she said. She continued to say that when putting the program together, the party thought about people and families rather than statistics and numbers. “The Nationalist Party wanted to propose something alternative, a new vision for Malta, proud of its identity, and a country that is respected internationally,” she said, “Forza Nazzjonali is an example of a new style of politics in Malta.”Simon Mizzi, who directed the creation of the electoral program in Gozo, told those present that the proposals were made “by people who have Gozo at heart.” He said that the manifesto is a “commitment to create Gozo into a feast of culture, looking into the future, strengthens the Gozitan society, and, above all, creates peace of mind in the health sector.” He added, “thinking of not only what is viable, but also what is needed.”Shadow Minister for Social Policy, Paula Mifsud Bonnici, who also addressed the event, expressed her satisfaction that “over 100 proposals will provide new opportunities for families.” Deputy Leader Mario De Marco said that the manifesto shows the party’s “commitment to the country,” that is “dedicated to the governance of this country, as we knew that was needed.”“When Muscat’s government fell under the weight of corruption, it found us prepared,” he said, “we had already prepared hundreds of proposals, so when Joseph Muscat called the election on 1 May, and on 2 May he said ‘where are your proposals?’, we gave proposals day after day after day, and here we have them altogether.”Turning to the manifesto’s proposals regarding the economy, Dr De Marco said that Joseph Muscat boasted a lot about how the economy grew, however, the Nationalist party noticed that this growth “wasnt experienced by many but rather only by a few, so many of our proposals in the manifesto address these people; such as pensioners, those employees with a low wage.” “It was only an economy of money, as long as every month he got out some figure without taking notice of those who weren't keeping up,” he said, “this isn't going to be our politics or economy.“This program is a word which is perhaps overused, it is a roadmap,” he said, “however Joseph Muscat’s roadmap has gotten us to a point which has collapsed our country,” “our roadmap does the opposite,” he said, “it will fix the damage.” He added that the most urgent thing is to “fix what Joseph Muscat has done in the past four years to the reputation of our country.”Joseph Grech from MZPN also spoke at the event.Photos: Michael Camilleri             

The Forza Nazzjonali manifesto in a nutshell
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EconomyIn addition to the numerous proposals the PNPD has already made about the economy, it is proposing that financial regulators such as the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) and the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) be made completely independent from government. This would ensure that there is no political interference, the manifesto reads.It is pledging for 25% of all government purchases to be made from small enterprises that employ less than 50 people. This is has been proposed to give a helping hand to small businesses and help them grow.The PNPD has also pledged to consolidate the financial services sector, partly by launching a high-level expert group where stakeholders will provide recommendations on a direction the industry should take.Pushing for developments in the FinTech sector, short for financial technology, is another proposal that would be supported through the launch of a €200 million FinTech mobilisation fund worth €200 million. TourismFor the tourism sector, a tax credit of 50% is being offered for all capital expenditure made by individuals or companies that convert residential properties in old village areas into accommodation for tourists.The PNPD will also look into attracting 6 star hotel investments, as well as offering schemes for 3 star hotels to be upgraded.A carrying capacity study has been promised, in relation to the number of tourists in Malta, in order to identify optimal investments in the tourism sector that would cater for Malta's particular need.Support for all operators in the tourism sector to have a stronger online presence, in line with the modern digital market is also included in the electoral manifesto. HealthA PNPD government would find facilities close to Mater Dei Hospital to create a centre for mental health. It is pledging for Malta to become a centre of excellence for diabetes, an ailment afflicting some 10% of the nation.Medicines prescribed for chronic illnesses such as diabetes and eczema will be provided free of charge.A national programme will be launched with the aim of reducing the average obesity rate in Malta over a period of 10 years to the average EU level. Clean politicsWhen it comes to clean politics, the party is pledging that, in order to clean Malta's name in Europe, emphasis will be put on Malta's role as a trustworthy, respectable financial centre. Within this section, the manifesto also states that Ambassadors will need to go through a hearing in front of the Committee of Foreign Affairs and the parliament of Europe and will "need to answer any question which the committee may require of them."Within a section titled 'Strengthening the transparency and freedom of the media', the manifesto pledges that all Government contracts will be published. Where secrecy is needed within contracts, necessary arrangements will be made for the access of confidential information for Parliament and other state entities, depending on the case.Ministers will not be able to use their own private email address for official use.A digital platform will be created which identifies all the property of the Government of Malta. Politics for the peopleUnder the subtitle of 'equality', the party is pledging to push for the possibilities of 'teleworking', which will "encourage the private sector to increase female employees in company boards." The party said that it will certify that at least half members in public boards will be women.Single parents will be exempted from NI contributions for the first year of their employment or training period.In the work against violence against women section, the party is pledging that a holistic response team will be available at all times. Another pledge assures that abuse victims will be at a distance from one another outside the court room.When it comes to pledges for elderly people, the party is pledging 50 hours of free treatment a month for elderly people who live at home and have specific medical conditions.For people with a disability, the party is pledging to subsidize digital hearing aids, whilst investing in guide and service dogs. When it comes to community life, the party is pledging to create a system where, upon receiving a fine, it will be suspended for six months, and if the same fine does not occur within six months, the first will be removed. EnergyIn the energy sector, a PN-government would reduce the price of petrol and diesel by 5c/ltr; and would  remain under the EU average through the legislature. The manifesto also pledged to remove the LNG tanker as quickly as possible; and begin building a gas pipeline to Sicily.It will also introduce consumer rights in the solar energy sector by providing compensation to those persons who lost their solar capabilities due to development. Transport and metro systemTo address the traffic situation, work would begin immediately on an over and underground  metro system  which will go through principle urban areas, and the two main islands. A national infrastructural plan, so that the metro system will form part of a greater holistic investment in the  transport sector. The Environment The environment will be enshrined in the constitution, which will create an economic model that reflects this.White Rocks will be made a national park, and the existing buildings will be converted into an eco-park; while valleys like Wied Ghomor will be granted national protection;The would increase marine protected zones and create an underwater eco museum to attract new forms of tourism.The Environment Resources Authority's deficiencies will also be addressed. Development The discretion to authorise the development on ODZ land will be removed from the Prime Ministerial and Government ; this will be replaced by a two thirds parliamentary approval on all major projects of national importance in both the private and public sector.There will be no speculative land reclamation, as ODZ will have the same economic value as IDZ.There will be National Policies for Architecture in urban zones and Skyline.The new administration would introduce a reduction in capital earning to 5% for near zero energy buildings; and regeneration projects in Marsa, Hamrun, Qawra, and Bugibba.There will be a reduction of 15% to 10% in rental tax in the same areas.A percentage of VAT from businesses within a certain locality will be allocated to the improvement of public infrastructure in that area.There will also be the introduction of legislation regulating the noise and dirt from construction sites.It  will also introduce incentives for the maintenance of scheduled properties; and for solutions to abandoned properties that are embroiled in a legal inheritance battle. Resource managementA National Policy for Water with stakeholders will be created in order to make a national plan on the conservation and improvement for water quality.There will be reduced generation of waste and inefficiency of waste management.A five-year plan to have solar energy car pumps across the island. Forza Nazzjonali manifesto can be downloaded here

Prime Minister says media tried to make noise with MaltaFiles but failed to provide substance
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Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this evening lashed out at the PN’s lack of concrete proposals for the future. He specifically referred to the PN’s position on the IIP citizenship scheme saying that no one has so far understood what Simon Busuttil intends to do with it. In a short intervention this evening during a political activity in B’Kara, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat thanked MP Joe Debono Grech for serving this locality for so long. He said he does not intend to retire as yet.He said that the PN is launching manifesto only 10 days before election date and questioned how well-costed are the PN proposals. The event this evening took the form of an interview by journalist Karl Stagno Navarra.Commenting on Malta Files, Dr Muscat said that in truth, newspapers are trying to create noise, but it is clear that there is no substance. “You read the headline, but then there’s not much detail.” He said the fact that international media failed to react to it, it means that there is nothing big. He said in ten days, we could have Simon Busuttil as Prime Minister. He also announced that the Japanese Prime Minister is going to visit Malta on Saturday. Former Labour MP Maria Camilleri gave a heartfelt message to Prime Minister Muscat. Dr Muscat had said that she was the first PL candidate he voted for. “I’m going to return the favour, and I will vote for every PL candidate in my district.” She said what the Labour Party built cannot be matched by the PN proposals. Joseph Attard, a new candidate compared Joseph Muscat as an army general. “Whatever happens, it was an honour serving with you,” he said while the crowd cheered. Addressing a mass rally in Paola a few minutes later, Dr Muscat said that he will not force anyone to vote, but the Labour Party can convince the public to vote for them.He said the choice is to go back to the politics of the past, where a government presents a good budget before the election, but the story changes completely afterwards."While the others send bills, we send cheques. Our politics is positive and open to everyone," he said before the hundreds who attended the rally.  He said those who were disappointed, should not stay at home. "You would be laying down the red carpet for Simon Busuttil to walk in the seat of power."Dr Muscat said that workers who worked in Libya and were promised a pension through an arrangement between the two countries, will be given the possibility to apply for a pension. He warned that an unstable government led by Simon Busuttil and Marlene Farrugia, will topple all that was built during the last four years.He appealed for those who have not yet collected the vote, to do so and vote for all the PL candidates. Joseph Muscat said that he is not afraid of the truth. He said that Simon Busuttil is trying to delay the results of the inquiry. 

PM 'informed' Russia behind Egrant saga; Moscow unhappy Russian ship not allowed to refuel in Malta
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Prime Minister Joseph Muscat today said that he is informed by two allied security services that the Egrant whistleblower story was invented to pay him back for not allowing a Russian ship to enter Malta for refuelling on its way to Syria.He said that Malta had received such information from two allied intelligence agencies.Dr Muscat was asked a question by MaltaToday, who quoted an article by a website called intelligence online, which read that “MI6 and the CIA are highly concerned by what the Russian couple has been up to in Malta. Some officials perceive it as a move to destabilise Malta’s pro-western Prime Minister comes from the Kremlin especially because it occurred at a time when Muscat was openly opposed to Moscow.”The article itself reads that MI6 and the CIA are concerned about possible Russian interference in the election process.Allegations have been made that Michelle Muscat is the owner of a company named Egrant which was opened in Panama. A magisterial inquiry has been launched, and a Russian whistleblower has come forward on the issue.The government did not have evidence that the people inventing the Egrant story were related to the Russian Secret Services, the Prime Minister said today.The government was also informed that the attitude of the Maltese Presidency accelerating the visa waiver programme for Ukraine had irritated certain people and that there was going to be some form of retaliation.Dr Muscat stressed that it was not the Maltese Security services who found this information, but rather the two allied security services. 

Edward Zammit Lewis second candidate to lay eyes on Deputy Prime Minister’s seat
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Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis is the second PL candidate who expressed his interest in occupying the post of Deputy Prime Minister, a seat which will become vacant as Louis Grech announced his retirement. Earlier this week, Minister for Health Chris Fearne also announced his interest to occupy the Deputy Prime Minister's post. He made the announcement while being interviewed on INDEPTH.Replying to a question by The Malta Independent news editor Rachel Attard, the Minister said that the most urgent priority at the moment is for Labour to win the general election. But said that he would be interested in serving side by side with Joseph Muscat as Deputy Prime Minister. "First he has to express his faith in me and get me back on as a Minister. If he does, I would be interested in occupying the post."Joseph Muscat had announced, earlier during the campaign that Louis Grech will not run as candidate for the Labour Party. He is, however, making himself available for the Prime Minister to provide counsel during cabinet meetings.Minister Edward Zammit Lewis was sent by the Labour Party instead of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat who chose not to attend the much anticipated press conference. The Minister had to face five journalists from various news agencies on issues which were hardly related to the tourism sector. Indeed, the questions were dominated by matters of scandals, Panama Papers and Egrant.The first questions were related to Air Malta and corruption allegations which are tarnishing Malta's reputation. On the National Airline, the Minister for Tourism has pledged that Air Malta will always be under the control of the Maltese. He said the media has constantly criticized any attempt by the government to find an adequate private international partner. He said today, he is shouldering the responsibility of the PN restructuring disaster.When asked about corruption and transparency and how these affect the local financial services sector, Dr Zammit Lewis said that the PN has worked to build a reputable sector but it was also thanks to the Labour Party Opposition who provided the necessary support. He said the PL presented a number of laws which are meant to keep corruption out of politics, like the party financing law.Rachel Attard asked about the responsibility politicians have to shoulder when their persons of trust act irresponsibly. She quoted the magisterial inquiry in the Manual Mallia and Paul Sheean case, that "the minister is responsible for the actions of the people chosen by him, from the driver to his chief of staff, and the minister has resign, if they fail to act correctly."Dr Zammit lewis replied by saying that she should have mentioned the inquiry on Beppe Fenech Adami, among others. He said Konrad Mizzi had to step down from Deputy Leader of the party and so paid the price. Zammit Lewis said that he does not expect everyone to agree with the decision.Mario Frendo and Darren Carabott, from the PN media, lashed out at the Minister for having to attend the conference instead of the Prime Minister. They asked about the latest update on the whistle blower, that she was sent from Russia. The journalist asked whether, according to the Minister, the timeline of events makes any sense.Dr Zammit Lewis said that the Prime Minister was only replying to questions. The Minister said that the Prime Minister had to stop from divulging any more details because the situation requires a very delicate approach.  RTK editor Josianne Camilleri asked Zammit Lewis to explain the reason why the Prime Minister had to call a snap election. The Minister replied that the election was called to safeguard the upcoming four years. He said the inquiries will lead to political ramifications, irrespective of the election outcome.Rachel Attard asked on the FIAU report which was handed to police but action was never taken. Zammit Lewis asked what politicians should do in these circumstances. "Should we fire the Attorney General?" he said while insisting that politicians should not attack the institutions when they don't agree with their decisions.Visibly frustrated, Minister Zammit Lewis said that it is a real pity that the journalists were not asking on specific proposals. "This government is not just Panama," he said while replying to more questions by the PN media on corruption."We saw Simon Busuttil heading to the courts with files in his hand, but so far failed to publish any further proof," he said.In his closing remarks, the Minister said that the public will be called to judge the government on the performance of the economy, jobs and tourism. A choice between the coalition of confusion, and an unstable government, he concluded. 

TMI investigation: Playmobil Malta’s cheap payments to subcontractors leads to precarious work
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Playmobil Malta’s cheap payments to subcontractors has led to individuals getting less than half the minimum wage, with some earning as little €1.90 per hour, documents provided to The Malta Independent show. Well-informed and trusted sources, who came forward as a matter of conscience, informed the newsroom that Playmobil Malta currently employs 22 subcontractors on the island.Documents indicate that each subcontractor is hired to assemble products for the company at a rate of €3.99 per hour. Sources claim that the subcontractor, in order to make a profit and meet the ambitious targets set out by the company, then employs Maltese people who are paid between €1.90 and €2.00 per hour and work from home, a clear violation of employment laws by subjecting individuals to precarious conditions of work.The current minimum wage in Malta is €4.25 per hour, and in April 2017, social partners agreed that the minimum wage would rise to €8 per week by 2019. An investigation by this newsroom found that the company requires the subcontractors to adhere to strict production regulations. Documents indicate that for one product the subcontractor will be paid €11.40 for every 1,000 pieces that is produced within three hours. This translates to roughly 350 units at €3.99 per hour, meaning that the workers assemble one piece every ten seconds. In other instances subcontractors are required to produce 1,000 pieces within for €16 at a rate of 250 per hour. This means that the individual will produce one every fifteen seconds or 1,000 within four hours. It is humanly impossible to produce more units per hour to reach the minimum wage rate. The documents also show that subcontractors are also paid €30 to produce 1,000 at rate of 130 per hour, meaning that the worker will assemble one particular piece every thirty seconds for a little less than eight hours. Sources have claimed that in some cases it requires a whole family to meet the targets. The newsroom was also informed that the payment to the subcontractor, and in turn the worker, is penalised if the targets set out by Playmobil Malta are not met. The sources also informed the newsroom that Playmobil Malta issues invoices to the subcontractors according to the total units produced. This, the sources claim, is a method to disguise the true cost of the wage per hour should the authorities challenge this practice, something which did not happen as yet. Alternattiva Demoktratika Chairperson Arnold Cassola had previously touched on the issue during the Leaders Debate at the University of Malta, when he made reference to a large manufacturing company based in Malta that was paying Maltese workers beneath the minimum wage while criticising the major political parties for not taking action.This newsroom was informed that Playmobil Malta has been using subcontractors for eight years. It was also reported that the rates offered to the subcontractors were higher when former CEO Helga Ellul was running the company. Mrs Ellul, who resigned in 2013, ran as a candidate for the MEP elections on the Nationalist Party ticket in 2014. Mrs Ellul was contacted for a comment but has not replied. Playmobil Malta Ltd is German-owned and has been engaged in the production of plastic toys in Malta since 1971. The company recorded €611 million worldwide sales in 2016. The Maltese company’s current CEO, Matthias Frauser  has refused to answer questions sent by The Malta Independent, with company’s receptionist informing the newsroom that “Playmobil Malta does not respond to the media,” despite previous assurances. Contacted by the newsroom, Playmobil’s corporate offices in Germany did not confirm or deny the reports, but refrained from commenting further.

‘Trusted public officer hijacked my Facebook profile’ – Godfrey Farrugia
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Partit Demokratiku candidate Godfrey Farrugia said that his Facebook profile was hijacked by a “trusted public officer”.Dr Farrugia, who resigned from the Labour Party and threw in his hat with the PD on the last day that nominations for the election were being received, said that this happened when he was away in Gibraltar on official duty.“For the last three days I ended up without my Facebook profile,” Dr Farrugia said today. “Somebody I trusted as a public officer used my identity documents to write to Facebook to inform them that my profile was his. Can’t believe these people exit.“This happened when I was representing my country in Gibraltar. Thanks to my Facebook page I could remain in electronic contact, but without my profile my access to my friends was not available; it was actually abused. I wrote to Facebook and explained. I had to testify and was given back what belongs to me.“This is the reality we live in. I have my suspicions because some coincidences indicate this.“I forgive this person and wish (this person) health and peace”.

Muscat chickens out of BA press conference; refuses other invitations for interviews, debate
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Prime Minister Joseph Muscat chose to send Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis in his stead for a Broadcasting Authority press conference to be shown on PBS this evening.It is the first time that a Prime Minister opted out of a televised press event in the run-up to an election campaign. Opposition leader Simon Busuttil took part in a similar press conference on Monday.But an embattled prime minister, at the centre of a magisterial investigation involving his wife and two others involving his chief of staff, has decided to pass the buck to one of his closest allies, instead of facing the music himself.The BA press conference is to be recorded this afternoon, with the participation of The Malta Independent, PBS, Il-Mument, Net News and RTK, and will be shown this evening at prime time.Muscat has been turning down invitations to be interviewed by the independent media for quite a while. The Malta Independent invited him to take part in its online programme INDEPTH in February, but he refused. A similar invitation was made to him for a programme during the election campaign, and, with 9 days to go till the end of the campaign, he is still to give an answer.He has also failed to answer to an invitation that was made to him to participate in a leaders’ debate planned by The Malta Independent, The Times and MaltaToday.Simon Busuttil had already accepted the invitation for this debate, and he has also accepted to be interviewed by the individual newspapers.

Analysis: The six things we learned from Muscat’s mass meeting in Mqabba
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Joseph Muscat’s speech at the mass meeting held in Mqabba last Sunday was fierce and passionate, to say the least. The man who always keeps his cool - even when confronted with by a barrage of questions from journalists - delivered a strong speech in a high-pitched voice with aggressive hand gestures.But, beneath the surface, the facial expressions, the Prime Minister passed on some hidden messages. Here are the six things which we learned from Dr Muscat’s speech in Mqabba. 1. He wants to address the floatersWe are less than two weeks away from the general election and party leaders want to attract the floaters’ votes. The Malta Independent’s election iSurvey found that there are more respondents who say they are switching over from PL in the 2013 general election to PN now. The undecided are also on the increase. The latest survey shows those who are undecided stand at 21%.  As per previous elections, it is these undecided who will decide the 3 June outcome.Rightly so, Joseph Muscat opened his speech by clearly stating that he wants to address the younger generation and, as he put it, “Those who are not affiliated to any particular political party, who are not into tribal partisan politics”. Clearly, he was speaking to those who were watching from the comfort of their homes. Those who attended the mass meeting were probably already dead set to vote Labour and did not need convincing. 2. Don’t boo, vote!If you follow the media (my dear), you’ve probably come across the famous “don’t boo, vote” chant coined by Barack Obama during a pre-election campaign rally for Hillary Clinton. Obama improvised what will probably turn out to be one of the most remarkable catchphrases of the dearly missed US President.It’s no secret that our Prime Minister likes Obama. But during this campaign, Dr Muscat turned it up a little notch. “Mhux tibbujaw,” he told the crowd in the mass meeting, “ivvutaw!” He said it on Sunday but he had already said it in other PL evening events during this campaign. 3. The one seat majority dilemmaJoseph Muscat started the legislature with a nine seat majority. It was basically impossible for Parliament to stop any of the government’s proposals because the Opposition faced a gargantuan task to beat this majority. Votes of no confidence were, despite marathon debates, fruitless.During his speech, Dr Muscat let slip that he considers a one or two-seat majority as unstable. “The PN risks leading with a small majority, where the leader would have to debate every little decision,” he said. But one should ask, what is wrong with that? What’s wrong with debating? Isn’t a nine-seat majority dangerous? Apparently, for Muscat, numbers in Parliament are more important than debates within the Cabinet. 4. Mizzi and Schembri kept for important projectsJoseph Muscat has not refrained from mentioning the Panama Papers issue during any of the political activities. He reiterated that, during this legislature, he made some mistakes. Most noticeable among these was his inaction with regards to the Panama Papers scandal in which Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri were involved.He stated during last Sunday’s mass meeting that he needed to keep the two most trusted of friends because they had important projects to complete. Konrad Mizzi, although being dubbed the ‘no-portfolio minister’ after he was stripped of his energy and health portfolios, was still kept in charge of energy projects. He was in fact always present during events related to the energy sector. Does this mean that Muscat may intend to keep Mizzi out of the Cabinet in the next legislature? 5. Muscat is not in favour of abortionThe Sunday Times on the day carried a story quoting Godfrey Farrugia hinting that the Labour Party intends to introduce abortion. Muscat wanted to address this immediately and said that what “the conservative coalition” was saying was a lie. He did not mention Godfrey Farrugia by name but it was clear to what and who what he was referring. 6. Don’t vote for who disappointed youAt one point in his speech, Muscat told the thousands gathered in Mqabba to vote, even if some candidates disappointed. “If there are certain candidates who disappointed you, don’t abstain from voting. Go out and vote for another Labour Party candidate!” he shouted.At this point, one can only speculate.

Baby among three injured as car falls into valley
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A woman was seriously injured when a car fell into the valley in Wied Ghomor in St Julian’s, the police said today.The accident happened at 11am.Two other persons were in the car, a 33-year-old man and a baby. All three are of French nationality.The woman was taken to hospital for treatment.

TVM

Il-kandidat tal-Ajkla jgħid li hu biss jista’ jtejjeb il-ħajja tal-Maltin

Il-kandidat tal-Partit tal-Ajkla Nazzareno Bonnici qal li l-partiti politiċi qed jidħqu bin-nies u li hu biss jista’ jtejjeb il-ħajja tal-Maltin u l-Għawdxin. F’meeting pubbliku fl-Imsida, is-Sur Bonnici qal li għalhekk in-nies għandhom l-ewwel jivvutaw lilu fl-elezzjoni tat-3 ta’ Ġunju. Żaren Bonnici qal ukoll li qed jibbojkottja l-istediniet kollha li qed isirilu minn TVM għax qal […] The post Il-kandidat tal-Ajkla jgħid li hu biss jista’ jtejjeb il-ħajja tal-Maltin appeared first on TVM.

Il-PM jgħid li jekk il-PL jkun elett se jimxi ‘l quddiem b’pożittività

F’attività f’Raħal Ġdid, Dr Muscat qal li jekk il-Partit Laburista jkun elett jimxi ‘l quddiem b’pożittività. Żied li n-nies jafu li gawdew matul dawn l-erba’ snin għax ma żiedx it-taxxi, ta x-xogħol u żamm kelmtu mal-Maltin u l-Għawdxin. Il-Prim Ministru qal li din mhix kwistjoni li jiġu rranġati l-problemi mil-lum għal għada iżda fl-aħħar erba’ […] The post Il-PM jgħid li jekk il-PL jkun elett se jimxi ‘l quddiem b’pożittività appeared first on TVM.

Il-PN japprova l-programm elettorali tal-Forza Nazzjonali b’320 proposta elettorali

F’Kunsill Ġenerali li tlaqqa’ fid-Dar Ċentrali tal-Partit Nazzjonalista ġie approvat il-programm elettorali tal-Forza Nazzjonali li fih total ta’ 500 proposta.  Apparti l-programm ġenerali bi 320 proposta, hemm programm elettorali għaż-żgħażagħ u ieħor għal Għawdex. II-Kap tal-Partit Nazzjonalista, Simon Busuttil, ħabbar li jekk ikun elett fil-gvern, iraħħas minnufih il-prezz tal-petrol u diesel. Fl-għeluq ta’ Kunsill Ġenerali […] The post Il-PN japprova l-programm elettorali tal-Forza Nazzjonali b’320 proposta elettorali appeared first on TVM.

Il-PM jgħid li l-veru periklu għall-ekonomija hi “l-koalizzjoni tal-konfużjoni”

Meta kien qed jieħu sehem f’attività politika f’B’Kara, il-Prim Ministru u Mexxej Laburista Joseph Muscat qal li il-kwistjoni tal-MaltaFiles qed tirriżulta li sar storbju f’numru ta’ ġurnali, iżda f’fora barranin ma kienx hemm l-istess furur. Dr Muscat sostna li s-settur tas-servizzi finanzjarji ma jinsabx f’riskju. Qal li l-veru periklu huwa l-Kap tal-Oppożizzjoni li jekk isir […] The post Il-PM jgħid li l-veru periklu għall-ekonomija hi “l-koalizzjoni tal-konfużjoni” appeared first on TVM.

Il-gvern se jagħti €960,000 fis-sena lil tliet NGOs fil-qasam soċjali

Il-gvern iffirma tliet kuntratti għal perjodu ta’ tliet snin m’għaqdiet mhux governattivi li joffru servizz soċjali fil-komunitajiet. Il-Ministru tal-Familja u s-Solidarjetà Soċjali, Michael Farrugia, qal li f’dawn it-tliet kuntratti, il-gvern se jgħaddi €960,000 fis-sena biex dawn l-għaqdiet joffru s-servizzi tagħhom lil persuni li jħabbtu l-bieb tagħhom għall-għajnuna. L-għaqdiet huma d-Dar Residenzjali San Ġużepp, l-Istitut Paolo […] The post Il-gvern se jagħti €960,000 fis-sena lil tliet NGOs fil-qasam soċjali appeared first on TVM.

Malta fit-tieni post b’ilma eċċellenti għall-għawm

L-Aġenzija Ewropea dwar l-ambjent ikklassifikat lill-Malta u erba’ pajjiżi oħrajn bħala l-aktar pajjiżi fl-Unjoni Ewropea li għandhom ilma ta’ kwalità tajba għall-għawm. B’għadd ta’ Maltin u barranin diġà bdew igawdu s-sajf bl-ghawm, ir-rapport annwali tal-Aġenzija Ewropea tal-Ambjent reġà sab li l-kwalità tal-ilma għall-għawm f’Malta, il-Lussemburgu, Ċipru, il-Greċja u l-Awstrija hija eċċellenti. L-aġenzija qalet li f’Malta […] The post Malta fit-tieni post b’ilma eċċellenti għall-għawm appeared first on TVM.

L-AD tippreżenta l-proposti tagħha għall-qasam edukattiv

L-Alternattiva Demokratika ppreżentat il-proposti tagħha għas-settur tal-edukazzjoni b’enfasi fuq tliet aspetti – il-kundizzjonijiet tax-xogħol tal-edukaturi, il-politika edukattiva u l-esperjenza edukattiva tal-istudenti. Iċ-Chairperson tal-Alternattiva Demokratika, Arnold Cassola qal li s-servizzi psikosoċjali għandhom ikunu aktar viċin l-iskejjel. Sostna li l-kurrikula m’għandhomx jindifnu f’sillabi li ma jispiċċaw qatt. Qed ikun propost li jitwaqqaf task force biex jeżamina r-raġunijiet […] The post L-AD tippreżenta l-proposti tagħha għall-qasam edukattiv appeared first on TVM.

Is-sena l-oħra 111-il tifel u tifla ġew irrapportati nieqsa f’Malta

Hekk kif għada se jitfakkar il-Jum Dinji għal Tfal Mitlufin, minn rapport li nħareġ għal din l-okkażjoni jirriżulta li s-sena li għaddiet f’Malta kien hemm xejn inqas minn 111-il tifel u tifla li ġew irrappurtati nieqsa fuq il-hotline Cross Border Family Mediators’ Network . Sitta minn dawn it-tfal kienu nħatfu mill-ġenituri tagħhom stess. Mir-rapport tal-organizzazzjoni Missing Children […] The post Is-sena l-oħra 111-il tifel u tifla ġew irrapportati nieqsa f’Malta appeared first on TVM.

30 immigrant fosthom tfal jegħrqu fil-Mediterran

Mill-anqas 30 immigrant, uħud minnhom tfal, għerqu ftit ‘il barra mill-kosta Libjana. Huma kienu fuq dgħajsa ffullata li kien qed iġġorr mal-500 immigrant, meta f’ħin minnhom għelbet u ħalliet 200 persuna fil-baħar. Minnufih bdiet ħidma ta’ tfittxija għal vittmi bis-sehem tal-gwardja tal-kosta Taljana u l-organizzazjoni rreġistrata f’Malta MOAS. The post 30 immigrant fosthom tfal jegħrqu fil-Mediterran appeared first on TVM.

Inawgurata sala għal koppji anzjani f’San Vinċenz b’investiment ta’ €500,000

Inawgurata sala għall-koppji anzjani li qed jgħixu fir-Residenza għall-Anzjani San Vinċenz de Paule. Is-sala saret b’investiment ta’ nofs miljun ewro. F’erba’ xhur, il-ħaddiema tat-Taqsima tal-Manutenzjoni fir-Residenza San Vinċenz de Paule lestew sala oħra li tilqa’ koppji anzjani. Din hi t-tieni sala li ġiet inawgurata f’sitt xhur. Iż-żewġ swali jakkomodaw 21 koppja. Fl-inawgurazzjoni, is-Segretarju Parlamentari Justyne […] The post Inawgurata sala għal koppji anzjani f’San Vinċenz b’investiment ta’ €500,000 appeared first on TVM.

NewsBook

Inawgurata sala għall-koppji anzjani f'San Vinċenz De Paule

Ġiet inawgurata sala f’St Joseph Ward 5 f’San Vinċenz De Paule.

L-Arkivji Nazzjonali ddiġitalizza 8 miljun paġna

L-Arkivji Nazzjonali ddiġitalizza madwar tmien miljun paġna u 800 intervista rrekordjata.

Fl-2016 111-il tifel u tifla rrapportati nieqsa f'Malta

​Is-sena li għaddiet f’Malta 111-il tifel u tifla ġew irrappurtati nieqsa fuq il-hotline Cross Border Family Mediator’s Network.

L-ekssieħeb ta' Yana Mintoff Bland ma jiftakarx x'ġara fl-inċident

Ir-raġel akkużat li weġġa' lil Yana Mintoff Bland f’darha ma setax jiftakar x’ġara fl-inċident.

Manchester United rebbieħa tal-UEFA Europa League

Għar-Red Devils din hija l-ewwel darba fl-istorja tal-klabb li rebħu din it-tazza, u l-unika waħda li kien għadhom ma rebħux fi storja twila u glorjuża.

Il-mexxejja politiċi jħarsu lejn ir-rapport tal-KE b’lenti differenti

Il-Prim Ministru u Mexxej tal-Partit Laburista Joseph Muscat u l-Kap tal-Partit Nazzjonalista kellhom reazzjoni opposta għar-rakkomandazzjonijiet tal-Kummissjoni Ewropea (KE) għal Malta.

Filmat: “Bnejna l-pedament f’erba’ snin u se nqassmu l-ġid fil-ħames snin li ġejjin” – Joseph Muscat

Il-Prim Ministru u Mexxej tal-Partit Laburista Joseph Muscat jindirizza rally f'Raħal Ġdid.

​“Iljieli fit-Teatru” mit-Tnejn li ġej

Mill-ġimgħa d-dieħla se jibdew sensiela ta’ lejliet kulturali fi Pjazza Teatru Rjal wara li ntlaħaq ftehim bejn il-Ministeru għall-Edukazzjoni u t-tmexxija ta’ Pjazza Teatru Rjal.

Google se jibda jissorvelja l-infiq fuq l-internet

Diversi kritiċi sostnew li b’din il-mossa Google se jkun qed jinvadi aktar il-privatezza tan-nies.

Filmat: Il-PN japprova l-programm elettorali; "Inwiegħed serħan il-moħħ" - Simon Busuttil

Il-Partit Nazzjonalista jippreżenta l-manifest elettorali

​Mill-10am tgħaddix minn Triq Raymond Caruana

Il-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija qed javża li minbarra dan, karozzi li jkunu pparkjati se jiġu rmunkati.

Jinfetħu l-applikazzjonijiet għall-Premju tal-President għall-Kreattività

Din is-sena se jkun hemm allokati €85,000 fejn kull proġett jista’ jgawdi minn għotja ta’ €6,000 jew ikella €8,000 jekk isir bejn żewġ għaqdiet flimkien.

Servizz estiż għall-bdiewa u r-raħħala

Is-Segretarju Parlamentari Roderick Galdes ħabbar li se jitnieda servizz estiż li minnu jistgħu igawdu l-bdiewa u tar-raħħala.

Filmat: “Ħafna storbju fuq il-MaltaFiles iżda m’hemmx sustanza” – Joseph Muscat

Il-Prim Ministru u Mexxej tal-Partit Laburista Joseph Muscat jindirizza attività politika f'Birkirkara.

Il-BOV u l-Kamra tal-Kummerċ Maltija-Franċiża iġeddu l-ftehim ta' bejniethom

Il-Bank of Valletta u l-Kamra tal-Kummerċ Maltija-Franċiża iġeddu l-ftehim ta' bejniethom.

L-MCA trid li l-E-Commerce jibqa' jimxi mal-bżonnijiet tal-konsumatur

L-MCA qed tniedi dokument għall-konsultazzjoni pubblika dwar l-istrateġija nazzjonali tal-Kummerċ Elettroniku jew l-E-Commerce għas-snin li ġejjin.

​AD tipproponi task force biex teżamina n-nuqqas ta’ għalliema

Alternattiva Demokratika nediet il-proposti elettorali tagħha fil-qasam tal-edukazzjoni li jiffokaw l-aktar fuq il-kundizzjonijiet tax-xogħol tal-edukaturi, il-politika edukattiva u l-esperjenza tal-istudenti.

Filmat: Il-baħar jibdel lewnu

Il-Kunsilli Lokali ta’ Tas-Sliema llum irċieva diversi lmenti dwar roqgħa fil-baħar b’lewn mhux tas-soltu.

Inpoġġu l-bniedem fiċ-ċentru tal-ekonomija

F’laqgħa li kellu mal-Ambaxxaturi tal-Mauretania,in-Nepal, Trinidad u Tobago, is-Sudan, il-Kazakistan u n-Niġer wara li dawn ippreżentaw il-kredezjali tagħhom bħala ambaxxaturi tal-Vatikan, il-Papa Franġisku qal li l-kriżi tal-fundamentaliżmu qed tkun aggravata “bl-abbuż mir-reliġjon biex ikun ġustifikat l-għatx għall-poter u l-manipulazzjoni tal-Isem Imqaddes t’Alla għall-avvanz”.

Filmat: Jiddiskutu Andre Zerafa u Lawrence Grech

Il-mistiedna huma Dr Andre Zerafa u s-Sur Lawrence Grech

“Naħfer lil min ħadli l-aċċess għal Facebook” – Godfrey Farrugia

Il-kandidat tal-Partit Demokratiku Godfrey Farrugia qal li jaħfer lil min ħadlu l-aċċess tal-profil tiegħu tal-Facebook.

Sitta arrestati minn bar f'Bormla wara sejba ta' droga

L-età tal-irġiel tvarja bejn l-20 u s-57 sena