Three of five suspect assassins in the conspiracy to murder Daphne Caruana Galizia are now serving sentences. The Degiorgio brothers have had some benefit from their last-minute decision to collaborate and confess. In place of a life sentence, which they were liable to receive, their decision to plead guilty on the first day of their trial reduced their sentence to 40 years plus costs, plus forfeiture of the money they received to commit the crime. If they can’t pay the money, the equivalent jail time is added to their sentence.

For whatever is left of the useful portion of their miserable lives they are going to be in prison.

Though no one seriously thinks that completes the mission of justice, it is justice and it should be recognised as such. If we spent five years marching in the streets demanding something which we do not recognise when it happens, even if only in small part, we prove blind to our own demands. And that is dangerous.

Let us look at what last week’s court sentence is not.

It is not justice on all the killers. Two more are awaiting trial. One other confessed killer, Vince Muscat, is serving a reduced sentence of 15 years which, however important his evidence to convict the two alleged assassins still waiting trial, will always rankle. And Melvyn Theuma, the self-confessed middleman ‒ which is an excessively polite way of calling him what he really is, a callous, cold-blooded, profiteering murderer ‒ enjoys immunity from prosecution to testify against Yorgen Fenech.

Yorgen Fenech, alleged mastermind of the plot, is also awaiting trial.

All those people whom we know from evidence we have seen and heard in open court need to be tried and, if convicted, definitively and appropriately sentenced. That still must happen. And we are to expect that they will use all resources at their disposal to avoid sentencing.

Here’s a point I want to make about justice for the murder conspiracy and execution. And I’m not making this point to persuade my usual audience of detractors, haters, trolls,and Joseph Muscat cultists. This point is addressed to the thousands of people out there who genuinely desire for justice to come about.

Speculating on unknown factors is inevitable. Speculating on what is known is stupid and plays into the hands of the criminals.

Why did the Degiorgios plead guilty before the jury heard the evidence against them? I’ve heard a few theories banded about. They were made to admit, I was told. The ‘real’ culprits wanted to hide what would have been revealed in the trial. Conspiracy theorising is all well if you want a debate on whether aliens built Ħaġar Qim. But the trials of Caruana Galizia’s murderers is not Discovery Channel daytime TV.

Nothing you haven’t already heard in the interminable preliminary stages held in open court against the Degiorgios could have emerged in a trial by jury. The evidence was all there piled in huge boxes at the judge’s feet. None of it was anything you don’t already know.

The reason the Degiorgios changed their plea was because they had come to a point in this five-year travail of hoping they could get away with murder when it became clear that, within weeks, they would be sentenced to life in prison. It was their last opportunity to make a deal which they entirely wished would have been better than the deal they walked away with.

There’s something else last week’s sentence is not. It is not, as Muscat and his supporters have argued, of any credit to the former (or the present) prime minister. A public inquiry conducted by three judges appointed by Muscat ruled that Muscat and his ministers were responsible for fomenting and preserving a toxic environment in which Caruana Galizia’s murder could happen. As it did.

Justice on Joseph Muscat and his ministers, accomplices and associates is still pending- Manuel Delia

So, justice on Muscat and his ministers, his accomplices and his associates is still pending.

But let’s be clear.

The evidence that we have seen suggests that Muscat and his ministers, his accomplices and his associates undertook corrupt activities and abused their political power. There are indications that they obstructed justice and sought to prevent or slow down the course of the investigations into Caruana Galizia’s murder. These would all be serious crimes, which they all deny committing, and which should be appropriately investigated and for which they should be prosecuted.

No effort for justice can overlook the need of this, the need of confronting the truth in our immediate past and our present before we can think of living together as a people.

There is no earthly reason, however, why that imperative ambition, that unquenchable desire for justice on the political leaders that pillaged this country at the cost to many but none so high as the price Daphne was made to pay should distract us from the just-as-fundamental desire to see all those we know to have been involved in Daphne’s murder to be sentenced and to be given punishments which are appropriate and proportionate to their crimes.

Fenech is innocent until proven guilty. We make that presumption because we make no exceptions to the fundamental and universal right to a fair hearing. But the compelling evidence that Fenech plotted, funded and ordered the killing of Caruana Galizia has been heard in open court, chilling the bones of anyone in those crowded court chambers listening to tapes of his grisly conversations. Anyone who has been in those courtrooms will feel nauseous at the hair-brained notion that this man is some sort of fall guy.

He awaits trial. And he has every motivation to avoid the appropriate sentences for the crimes he is accused of and those with which he is yet to be charged.

He has access to eye-watering resources, including conspiracy theorists, disseminators of discord and double agents who profess to want justice on politicians but only if it were to excuse their boss for the cold-blooded murder of a woman who came between his insatiable greed and his oceanic profits.

One way of getting away with murder is using the collaboration of the Degiorgios, they who have nothing more to lose while their families on the outside still have much to gain from the harm they can still do even from inside prison.

Do not be blinded by Damascene conversions on the scaffold.

If you want justice, the last thing you can allow to happen is for yourself to be used by murderers to get away with it.

Don’t let them.

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