The court concluded that Keith Schembri failed to declare his “fraternal relationship” with Yorgen Fenech even after Fenech became a suspect in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and his phone was tapped by the security services.

But Joseph Muscat knew all along about Schembri’s friendship with Fenech. Muscat allowed Schembri to continue to attend briefings about the murder inquiry. Schembri couldn’t have attended those Castille briefings without Muscat’s authorisation. Muscat let him do it.

The court recommended that “the legislator should consider such situations as most serious criminal offences subject to harsh punishment”.

The magistrate categorically declared that “the court feels that there are clear indications as to who was responsible (referring to Schembri) and enough evidence to charge them over such crimes”.

The court is right. Schembri leaked sensitive information to Fenech. That information reached the assassins, who knew in advance exactly when to expect the police raid at the potato shed.

The court is right that Schembri’s leaks “put the lives of (Inspector Keith) Arnaud and his police colleagues at great risk”.

The court ordered the police to charge Schembri and recommended “harsh punishment” for his failure to declare his blatant conflict of interest. So, what should happen to Muscat who knew about Schembri’s friendship with Fenech and never spoke up? What “harsh punishment” should Muscat face for failing to declare his own conflict of interest?

It isn’t Schembri who should be condemned and prosecuted. It’s Muscat.

The court is right. It dubbed Schembri the “factotum and alter ego” of Muscat. Muscat took Schembri with him even when Melvin Theuma’s pardon was discussed.

Yorgen FenechYorgen Fenech

Muscat allowed Schembri to get a copy of the draft of that pardon, a draft he sent straight to Fenech.

The court is right. It described Schembri’s persistent leaks to Fenech as “cowardly and disloyal”. But the one who was most disloyal to the nation, the greatest coward of all, was Muscat.

Muscat was entrusted by the nation to defend its interests, to protect its citizens and uphold the constitution and the rule of law.

Instead, he ensured that sensitive secret information about Caruana Galizia’s murder inquiry was accessible to Schembri, the prime suspect’s close friend.

Schembri admitted in court that his friendship with Fenech was “fraternal”. They’d known each other since childhood. He admitted going on overseas holidays with Fenech at least three times. He spent time on Fenech’s yacht. Fenech even paid the €24,000 bill for Schembri’s treatment at the Mayo clinic.

Muscat certainly knew how close Fenech and Schembri were. But Muscat was close to Fenech too. Muscat had an even greater conflict of interest than Schembri.

As early as 2015, Schembri, Muscat and Fenech travelled together to Florence to attend the wedding of Pilatus chairman Ali Sadr Hasheminejad. All three stayed at the Roccoforte Hotel at the expense of Hasheminejad.

Surely, a man so intelligent, astute and sharp as Muscat couldn’t have missed the evident long-term “fraternal” friendship between the two men.

If Muscat hadn’t noticed their close friendship during their Florentine trip, he couldn’t have missed it on the “large volumes” of chats in their joint WhatsApp group.

It’s high time Labour disowned Joseph Muscat and banished him to the wilderness

Muscat opened that private WhatsApp group between himself, Fenech and Schembri just one day after the arrest and indictment of the Degiorgio brothers and Vince Muscat il-Koħħu.

Fenech told the police about the secret WhatsApp group and that “we were like brothers”. Between January and October 2019, the three shared photos of food, wines, whiskies and women on their WhatsApp group.

That’s precisely when Schembri and Muscat attended the most sensitive briefings in Castille where the planned police raids at the potato shed were discussed.

Muscat knew. He knew Fenech had offered Schembri use of a “secluded room” at his farmhouse. Muscat knew that Fenech always offered Schembri and himself to bring anything they needed for them when he travelled abroad.

Muscat knew of Schembri’s conflict of interest. He surely knew about his own glaring conflict of interest. Hadn’t he invited Fenech to his exclusive birthday bash at Girgenti? Wasn’t he the one who accepted Fenech’s lavish gifts?

Muscat was also well aware that Fenech and Schembri weren’t just friends. Muscat knew Schembri had business plans with Fenech’s 17 Black. Schembri made a public statement about it in November 2018 after Times of Malta revealed that Fenech owned 17 Black.

Muscat knew Fenech was a prime suspect in Caruana Galizia’s assassination since May 2018, when he signed the order for the security services to tap Fenech’s phone. Schembri knew too – and warned Fenech that his phone was tapped.

Muscat knew all this too. Yet, he let Schembri sit in on those Castille police briefings. He was the one who jeopardised the safety of Arnaud and his police officers. He was responsible for the leaks to Caruana Galizia’s assassins and to the man accused of masterminding her assassination.

When Schembri was arrested as part of the Caruana Galizia investigation he allegedly sent Fenech a letter, through his doctor, Adrian Vella, instructing him to pin the blame on Chris Cardona.

Muscat wasn’t shocked or disgusted at Schembri’s villainy. He didn’t condemn Schembri.

Instead, he thanked him for his “crucial role”.

Muscat’s clemency wasn’t driven by loyalty. It was driven by fear that Schembri might spill the beans on Muscat. That’s the same reason the police won’t charge Schembri over breaching the Official Secrets Act and are letting the case become time-barred. It’s not Keith they’re protecting – it’s Joseph.

That is Joseph Muscat, nefarious and morally corrupt beyond imagination.

And, yet, here we are patiently waiting for Muscat to decide whether he’ll run for MEP on Labour’s ticket because the spineless Robert Abela won’t stop him.

Labour is complicit in Muscat’s villainy. Labour is guilty of letting this man use the party and its supporters to protect himself. Labour irresponsibly provides Muscat safe haven.

It’s high time Labour disowned Muscat and banished him to the wilderness – with Cardona, Konrad Mizzi and Schembri – where he belongs.

Only then might Malta start to heal that wide open wound that is still bleeding.

Kevin Cassar is a professor of surgery.

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