It’s only a few years since the arch-scheming politician was forced to resign from head of government under a cloud of corruption. Nobody imagined the day would come when he’d be in the dock.

He’d been mired in the worst corruption for years but never faced consequences. The nation was resigned – he was just too powerful, his supporters too many, his party too strong to allow their former leader to face justice. When the acting chief justice read her ruling, the nation fell silent. She found him guilty, condemning him to 15 months imprisonment but also brutally denounced his efforts to defy justice and deceive the nation:

“The court went to great lengths to safeguard his rights. There is simply no sound or legal basis on which he can claim to have been treated unfairly. His attempts to evoke public sympathy through unfounded allegations fly in the face of reason – no one is above the law… the accused once again squandered an opportunity to respect this country’s legal processes which guarantee all citizens fairness and equality before the law. He again aired his views through inflammatory statements intended to undermine the authority of the court.”

The former leader retaliated, calling the court “an emotional and angry bench” and threatened to bring his supporters onto the streets. He turned to his successor and party leader for support. Instead of solidarity, his successor issued a stern warning: “We have rule of law in this country that governs us. Once a court decided, that’s it and should there be any threat of violence our security forces are ready.”

Undeterred, instead of handing himself in, he called on his supporters. They filled the streets of the capital, arriving in convoys of cars and buses. They blocked the roads. A human shield arrived to protect their hero and former leader as they chanted the party anthem and threatened the opposition.

That wasn’t Joseph Muscat. It was Jacob Zuma. His cautious successor who refused to protect him from justice was Cyril Ramaphosa. Zuma’s reckless defiance dragged the country into chaos. Three hundred people were killed in deadly riots and widespread looting. But Zuma was still jailed. Ironically, it wasn’t for corruption but contempt of court, having refused to testify in the Zondo corruption inquiry.

Judge Zondo requested a two-year jail sentence for Zuma because “he had shown such disregard for the courts that a clear message had to be sent to him and to South Africa – no one is above the law”.

We can only dream of being like South Africa – where senior ministers refusing to give evidence to the NAO, as Konrad Mizzi repeatedly did, and prime ministers who show such disregard for the courts face consequences. We can only dream of having a prime minister who protects the rule of law and defends the country’s institutions instead of viciously attacking them to protect his friend and former boss.

We can only dream of a minister who ensures the country’s police dutifully fight corruption instead of diligently botching the criminal case. We can only wish for a justice minister who ensures the AG’s office acts in the national interest against a criminal organisation instead of attacking the courts in defence of his friend, Muscat.

Robert Abela should apologise to the nation on Labour’s behalf for allowing Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi and Joseph Muscat to hijack the party- Kevin Cassar

The inquiry has been published. It shows the industrial scale looting of our nation by those trusted with our wealth. They detail the tens of millions of euros passed on to the secret “major shareholder” of our three hospitals – Shaukat Ali. Our hospitals belonged to him – but none of us knew. Muscat, Keith Schembri and Mizzi didn’t want us to know – because those millions weren’t all for him.

The inquiry detailed how Ali set up a group of companies, some in the secrecy jurisdiction of Jersey, “to facilitate payments derived from the award of the concession for the benefit of Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi”. It showed how our money was used to purchase Technoline, a company given exclusive procurement rights to funnel millions more to its secret owners. It shows how our millions were squandered on luxury cars, credit cards, luxury travel and exclusive apartments and the fees of legal advisors directing the massive money laundering.

The victims of that massive Ponzi scheme turned up in droves to cheer Schembri, Mizzi and Muscat as they triumphantly made their way to court. They chanted the Labour Party anthem and lauded Muscat for his beneficence – a true circus of masochists.

What is soul-destroying is that some of those details – about Ali, Technoline, MTrace, Accutor AG, Mizzi, Schembri and the tens of thousands funnelled into Muscat’s BOV account – have been known for years. Yet, neither the police nor the AG lifted a finger.

This is a failed state where practically all the institutions were subservient to the criminal organisation allegedly controlled from the prime minister’s office by his chief of staff.

What’s more depressing is that Robert Abela is on Muscat’s side. He defended Steward and kept pumping more of our money into their bottomless pit. He’s systematically attacking the only functioning pillar of our democracy in order to shield his friend and his majority. Abela knew about Muscat’s machinations that robbed us of a half-decent health service and tens of millions of euros. Instead of dissociating himself and his party from Muscat, he provides him with a platform at his MEP candidates’ events.

Abela should be apologising to the nation on Labour’s behalf for allowing Schembri, Mizzi and Muscat to hijack the party. He should apologise for allowing them to capture the state and render the institutions impotent, unable and unwilling to protect the nation from their industrial looting.

He should thank Repubblika for persevering against all odds to demand the inquiry which exposed the Ponzi scheme run by our own government. He should thank Adrian Delia for instituting the legal process that gave us back our hospitals. He should thank Daphne Caruana Galizia who exposed the rot so early and apologise to her family for Labour’s continuing vilification of her memory.

Kevin Cassar is a professor of surgery.

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