Update: Minister Owen Bonnici’s position no longer tenable, says PN; government responses

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The Nationalist Party today said the post of Minister for National Heritage, Arts and Local Government Owen Bonnici is no longer tenable due to events at the National Orchestra under his political leadership.

The PN called on Bonnici to assume political responsibility and resign.

This followed a sexual harassment case involving members of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, where the victim had to resign against his will.

On Saturday, Malta Philharmonic Orchestra CEO Sigmund Mifsud was charged with tampering with evidence after he allegedly ordered MPO employees to keep quiet over the sexual harassment scandal. He also allegedly tried to convince the victim to change his version of events.

The PN raised questions about the complete silence on the matter from Bonnici’s side, and it was only after the matter came out in the media, that Bonnici said there was an investigation.

He said a government minister failed to take immediate action following public accusations of sexual harassment that arose at an entity under his jurisdiction. The PN accused Bonnici of not having taken the necessary measures to ensure the protection of the victim.

The PN recalled that Mifsud had been appointed as a trusted person under the mandate of former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. He still holds the same position under Prime Minister Robert Abela.

He also said Abela should have taken immediate action after learning that a minister in his cabinet hid accusations of sexual harassment.

In response to the PN’s statement, the government said the Ministry of National Heritage, Arts and Local Government condemns the PN’s position, saying it chose to try to turn the matter into a political issue.

“There is no place for political partisanship when there are issues related to sexual harassment in the workplace,” the statement said.

The government said that in this case, all necessary steps were taken immediately and promptly, and all questions were answered in the most open and transparent manner.

“The institutions worked and produced results, as did the government. The government will continue to work to strengthen work in the cultural sectors for the benefit of all Maltese and Gozitans,” the statement read.

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