Zurrieq double-decker story on ‘www.indepe
The death of two foreigners in a freak accident in Zurrieq in early April was the most read story on The Malta Independent website www.independent.com.mt during 2018.
On 9 April, a Spanish woman and a Belgian man were killed instantly when the doubledecker bus they were on crashed into a tree. Another 50 people were treated for injuries, some of them serious, as the top part of the bus slammed into a tree at the side of the road.
This incident was followed by a lengthy debate on the presence of trees on Maltese roads, with many, which started to be considered as being dangerous to traffic and pedestrians, being chopped off or pruned.
The second most read story had a foreign flavour and was broken locally by The Malta Independent which revealed that Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro was being investigated in the United States of America for having laundered some €160 million through an unnamed Maltese private investment firm, according to a Homeland Security Investigations criminal complaint filed in the courts of Miami.
In third place was another story which was broken by this newsroom in April and dealt with electricity bills which were higher than what they should be. This is because bills are being sent more frequently, and the complexity of how they are calculated adds to further suspicions that consumers are being charged more than they should. Government is denying this, but complaints continue to arrive to this day.
Not many stories dealing with politics made it to the top 20 of our most read stories. It could be that people have become fed up of Maltese politics – or perhaps of Maltese politicians and their shenanigans.
One of the many stories carried during 2018 on the pressure faced by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to dismiss his Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and chief of staff Konrad Mizzi over the Panama Papers scandal – a story that started in April 2016 but still reverberates today – made it to only the 18th place of our list.
But there were two other stories about difficult moments Muscat had to deal with that made it to higher places among our readers.
The interview Muscat gave to the BBC, in which he was described by journalist James Sweeney as being the Artful Dodger of Europe and the passport-seller-in-chief, finished a high sixth place. That interview, which was aired in January, affected the way Muscat treated the media from thereon. After that BBC interview, Muscat chose to send others in his stead to “defend” Malta’s name, including his deputy Chris Fearne and, more recently, Edward Scicluna and Glenn Bedingfield. In Malta, Muscat continues to turn down requests for interviews by the independent media, preferring to accept one-to-ones only with friendly journalists.
The second instance which had Muscat blushing was the time when a group of Maltese people shouted “shame on you” in the heart of London as the PM and his wife Michelle were entering a building where an activity related to Malta’s passports-forsale scheme was to be held. This story was ninth on our list of most-read stories in 2018.
Another story which exposed how Malta’s passport scheme is viewed very negatively in for- eign quarters was the one in which we reported that members of the Italian political party Cinque Stelle walked out of an event in Sicily when President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca was about to start her address. This was the 20th most read story last year.
The killing of businessman Hugo Chetcuti in Paceville was unsurprisingly present twice in our top 20 stories, with the story about his death the fourth most read story while the stabbing, which took place six days earlier, was 11th. Another story involving Chetcuti – his interest to stretch his business empire from Paceville to Balluta, which was carried in January, six months before his murder – finished number 16.
Two other murders were greatly followed by our readers, the killing of a Dutch woman in Santa Venera and the murder of two women in a domestic incident in Gharghur.
On a much lighter note, the time when Partit Demokratiku MP Marlene Farrugia told her partner and fellow MP Godfrey Farrugia to go check the food which was burning while she was giving a press conference in their own residence also grabbed our readers’ attention and ended up in 19th place.
Two people died when the top part of a double-decker bus smashed into a tree in Zurrieq
Businessman Hugo Chetcuti died in hospital six days after being stabbed in one of his Paceville establishments
A Dutch woman was found dead, her throat slashed, in Santa Venera
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro