Good old Virgil tells us that from the crime we can know the nation. And, we could add, from the key minister we can know the government.

A decade ago, the then-unknown Konrad Mizzi was presented to us as a young Mozart of technocracy. Today, we know the management-speak and word salads were the babble of an idiot-savant of corruption.

The US government has openly accused him of corruption in the Electrogas deal and declared him persona non grata. A judge has condemned his hospital deals with Vitals and Steward. Robert Abela himself has described Mizzi’s Montenegro wind farm deal as disgusting.

He was a key fixer in a grand scheme to cannibalise the country. But we’re not supposed to say this because the cannibals were using nicely printed menus, starched table linen and forks.

From Mizzi, we hear barely a whimper of self-defence. Even from the people whose government he damaged, we hear nothing. Has Abela even asked the US government for the proof of “significant corruption” that it attributes to Mizzi and Keith Schembri?

Virtually nothing Mizzi did makes sense from a national perspective. The judge says the deals with Vitals and Steward betrayed the national interest at every turn. Indeed, Mizzi kept them hidden from his fellow ministers as long as he could.

The dealings with the Electrogas consortium could have wrecked the country, according to the former permanent secretary at the ministry of finance.

The Mozura wind farm deal saw Enemalta buy shares at three times their original value. Mizzi’s legacy at Air Malta has been scorned by his successor, the current finance minister. His handling of the Malta Tourism Authority and the film industry was mired in clientelism.

Yet, speaking of 10 years of government, Labour apologists speak in euphemisms. They mumble about “not being perfect”, of having made “mistakes” and trusted “too much” without naming anyone. You’d think Mizzi’s dealings were merely isolated boils and pimples on the otherwise unblemished body of achievement, an unfortunate case of putting the best foot forward and catching a verruca.

But Vitals, Electrogas and Mozura are not warts. They are flagship projects in key areas of the nation’s health, security and long-term finances. If they were rotten, then the life-blood of the state was rotten. But we’re expected to look upon the stinking, purulent discharge and not see the gang in the gangrene.

Mizzi did not act alone. Kon-men – childhood friends, personal financial and legal advisers, canvassers – were placed in key positions in the state. Some of them are still there, steering decisions or winning state contracts or both.

They remain part of the modus operandi. As for Mizzi himself, he was expelled from the parliamentary group but not from Labour.

The silence and light touch have an obvious explanation. Mizzi is toxic and, therefore, must be isolated. But he must be left alone, not squeezed, lest he squeal the details about how he wasn’t acting alone in government.

A decade ago, the then unknown Konrad Mizzi was presented to us as a young Mozart of technocracy. Today, we know the management-speak and word salads were the babble of an idiot-savant of corruption- Ranier Fsadni

Mr Justice Francesco Depasquale couched his condemnation of the hospitals deal carefully. It is misleading to say he leaves his harshest words for Mizzi. The judge is clear in criticising “the government and its representatives”.

The representative was often Mizzi. But he was representing government and, ultimately, its head, Joseph Muscat.

The latter has been at pains to say that the sentence mentions him only twice, and both times neutrally. Again, misleading.

In fact, the sentence is damning, particularly when we link it up to other information.

The judge rejects two key elements of Muscat’s testimony. Muscat underlined the infamous memorandum of understanding had nothing to do with the eventual hospitals deal – but the judge says it did. And Muscat said that the deal was a success, which the judge outright rejects.

But there’s more. Muscat testified that he left everything in Mizzi’s hands. Indeed, he didn’t know about the agreement to pay Steward €100 million if the deal was revoked. That doesn’t add up. First, it’s a strange thing not to know a critical aspect of the deal, in 2021, when you had accompanied Steward for a meeting with your successor precisely to discuss it.

Next, in 2016, at the height of Panamagate, Muscat did more than vouch for Mizzi. To assuage the critics, even within Labour, he made Mizzi a minister within the office of the prime minister. He underlined this was to keep Mizzi under his watchful eye. Whatever happened to that?

In the further dealings with Vitals and Steward, Mizzi was either acting under Muscat’s supervision or else Muscat wasn’t looking.

And it wasn’t just a momentary distraction. Key episodes followed – to do with the hospitals deals, the Electrogas consortium and the Mozura wind farm. Muscat seems to have missed them all. He has even said he couldn’t understand what happened with Mozura.

The distractedness could be really huge. In February 2016, before Daphne Caruana Galizia broke the Panamagate story, Mizzi is supposed to have shown Muscat a parliamentary declaration including his secret Panama company. Muscat confirmed this and minimised Caruana Galizia’s revelations. He even backed Mizzi for Labour deputy leader. But, by April, he demoted Mizzi because, he said, he was naturally disappointed with Mizzi’s mistake. What was he doing in February? Talking in his sleep?

Years passed but the distractedness continued. In November 2019, Mizzi resigned from cabinet in disgrace. A few days later, Muscat must have forgotten all about it because he personally approved a consultancy contract for Mizzi that amounted (including perks) to one-and-a-half times his ministerial salary.

Amazing. In a court of law, a hundred suspicions need not amount to a single piece of evidence. But we’ve had 10 years of government where a hundred pieces of evidence need not amount to a single suspicion.

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