Joseph Muscat thought he was invincible. He tattooed ‘Invictus’ on his arm. He thought everything he said would be believed. And he believed he’d get away with anything. Now he’s lying under oath.
In court, Muscat claimed that Melvin Theuma’s pardon was discussed in cabinet. He’s trying to blame his ministers.
But, on November 19, 2019, Muscat briefed the media in Castille about Theuma’s pardon. “This decision I am taking alone. This is not a decision that will be discussed or decided in cabinet. I believe this is a decision I should take on my own, I will carry the political responsibility alone and do not want to burden others with it.”
Muscat has changed his tune. Gone is his bravado. “The president grants it after the request is discussed by cabinet,” he told the court about Theuma’s pardon.
Muscat was testifying in a libel case he instituted against lawyer Christian Grima.
Grima’s lawyer, Carl Grech, called Muscat out: “So why did you take it on your own?”
Muscat froze. His towering pride came crashing down, just for that split second. Caught in his knotted lies, he replied: “I don’t have anything else to say.” Muscat realised his ego and his big mouth had betrayed him.
Muscat has lost the plot. He’s lied so much he’s making mistakes, forgetting what he said and tripping himself up. There was more outrageous perjury.
Muscat claimed, under oath, that he didn’t know that Yorgen Fenech’s and Theuma’s phones were tapped. But the New Yorker reported that Muscat himself “signed off on wiretap requests for Theuma and Yorgen Fenech”. The Times of Malta also reported that Muscat signed the order to tap Fenech’s phone even though normally that was the role of the home affairs minister.
Keith Schembri tipped off Fenech that his phone was being tapped and gave him advanced warning of police raids.
Muscat denied sharing information with Schembri about Theuma’s pardon. He claimed Schembri didn’t have access to any information.
But Muscat invited Schembri to briefings about Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, according to Owen Bonnici. Then lead police inspector Keith Arnaud testified that Fenech told Theuma what happened during one of those briefings Schembri attended. Even disgraced former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar testified that Schembri attended briefings on the investigation.
But Muscat claimed that “I did not know whether Schembri had been aware of what was happening in those briefings”.
Arnaud testified that Fenech had a copy of the final version of Theuma’s pardon on his mobile phone on the eve of his arrest. According to Fenech, Schembri sent it to him.
Far from not having access to information about the pardon, as Muscat claimed, Schembri had a copy of its final version which he shared with the alleged mastermind.
Schembri faces a long list of charges, including money laundering, fraud, criminal conspiracy and forgery. He is accused of giving Theuma his fake government job, which Theuma considered payment for his role as middleman.
Schembri conveniently lost his phone on the day of his arrest. Yet, Malta’s police haven’t taken up an FBI offer to help them retrieve it.
Joseph Muscat’s claims are becoming wilder and wilder. Even his diehards can no longer believe him- Kevin Cassar
The New Yorker reported that Schembri called up reporters and, after being granted anonymity, filled newspapers with disinformation about Caruana Galizia’s murder. Schembri is banned from the US because of his alleged corruption. But Muscat declared: “I still have faith in him.”
When Theuma’s arrest was made public, Schembri called Fenech’s doctor and told him to go to his house to pick up a wad of papers to deliver to Fenech. They contained an elaborate story to frame Chris Cardona for the murder. Schembri’s letter showed intimate knowledge of nearly every aspect of the investigation, down to the contents of Theuma’s secret recordings.
Muscat claimed in court that he only found out about Theuma’s recordings from the media. Yet, on November 19, 2019 he spoke about “the evidence that the targeted person has in hand to corroborate the information provided”. He bragged that “we have negotiated with the person’s lawyers” and that he had given assurances that the person would get a presidential pardon. The pardon depended on those recordings to substantiate Theuma’s claims. But Muscat wants us to believe he recommended a pardon without knowing about Theuma’s recordings.
Muscat also wants us to believe he couldn’t remember Theuma’s handwritten letter, found in Theuma’s ice-cream box, in which he admitted that he was the middleman in Caruana Galizia’s murder and that Fenech and Schembri “were working to get rid of me”. With that letter was the notorious photo of Theuma hugging Schembri in Castille. Grima’s lawyer had to show Muscat a copy of the letter to jog his memory. Muscat claimed he had never seen it before.
Muscat’s claims are becoming wilder and wilder. Even his diehards can no longer believe him.
Muscat knew that Fenech was a suspect in Caruana Galizia’s murder since May 2018 when he signed his phone tapping order. Yet, he invited him to his private party at Girgenti. Muscat messaged Fenech asking him whether he enjoyed himself. According to Fenech, Muscat summoned him to Castille to warn him about a police raid on Theuma. Fenech sent a message to Theuma before his arrest: “Be 100% sure everywhere is clean.”
“Do you trust him,” Muscat asked Fenech, referring to Theuma. “Not really because he’s recording me,” Fenech replied.
As Muscat walked out of court, his lies continued. So did his efforts to pin the blame on cabinet colleagues.
Did the cabinet discuss the €100 million Stewards clause, one reporter asked. “You have everything that was discussed in cabinet minutes, in the report of the auditor general and there are very extensive minutes, yes including all this, it is documented,” he waffled.
Muscat can’t lie away one fact ‒ that his own cabinet colleagues forced him out of office. And they did it because he was dishonest, because he’s a charlatan and because he damaged the country catastrophically.
Kevin Cassar is a professor of surgery.
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