The amygdala is the part of your brain essential for feeling emotions and for perceiving emotions in others. Extreme altruists, such as those donating their kidney to strangers, have larger ones.

The amygdala is much smaller in psychopaths. The latter are known to have impaired empathy and guilt, deficient moral emotion and reasoning. This impairment leads psychopaths to commit heinous crimes without guilt or shame.

On June 3, 2017, the Labour Party won an election landslide victory. Five days later, on June 8, Carmelo Abela was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs.

According to Fiona Formosa, his permanent secretary, within a week of the election Abela ordered Andrew Caruana Galizia, a dedicated junior diplomat, back from his posting in New Delhi, India. The minister gave no reason for the decision, and the permanent secretary did not seek one.

According to Formosa, there was no discussion, “just that he (Caruana Galizia) was to come back within two weeks”.

Abela had only been appointed minister on June 8. At most, within 48 hours of taking up the post, probably within the day, the new minister gave direct instructions to recall the junior diplomat.

At the Daphne Caruana Galizia inquiry, the minister “could not remember” whether he received instructions from the Office of the Prime Minister. Unconvincingly, Abela claimed that “the recall had nothing to do with his mother’s journalism”.

Malta’s High Commissioner to India, Stephen Borg, sent a written objection to the minister imploring him to cancel the recall. The High Commissioner had nobody else to assist him in India. Caruana Galizia was his only aide. The minister was not offering a replacement. Minister Abela ignored the written objection.

“Was there pressure from Castille?,” Abela was asked. “I don’t see the relevance of this question,” Abela deceitfully replied.

Minister Abela insisted: “It is not uncommon to move people around.”

Who are you trying to fool, Minister Abela?

The minister tries to convince that immediately after being appointed, he decided to move a random valued junior diplomat from a distant India. Why did he insist that he get back within two weeks, ignoring the plea of the High Commissioner? To inflict maximum disruption and hardship.

What secrets are being used to blackmail Abela into secrecy? How much longer will he humiliate himself?- Kevin Cassar

Had the minister nothing better to do in those first few days of appointment? Did he not think that familiarising himself with his complex brief would have been more productive?

With Brexit looming, migration pressures and international concerns about the rule of law, the minister’s priority was harassing and persecuting a loyal civil servant.

The reason for this is evidently clear. His mother was Daphne Caruana Galizia, Joseph Muscat’s arch critic.

What is abundantly clear is that the decision to torment the junior diplomat was taken by Muscat in his perennial thirst for revenge and retribution.

What better way is there to harm a mother than to target her son? Minister Abela was complicit in an atrocious and vindictive act to satisfy his master. He damaged not only the individual targeted but the interests of his country.

Despite the objection by the High Commissioner, Abela disregarded the harm he would cause Malta’s interests.

India is the second most populous country in the world with a huge market, a country Malta should be working hard to develop economic and political relations with. But for Abela, the priority to seek revenge superseded his duty to protect the interests of Malta.

The ink of his signature on the oath of office was barely dry when the minister was already undermining his country’s interests – and persecuting dedicated civil servants.

What is equally galling is that the permanent secretary did not challenge the decision. She had not even sought a reason for the decision. She knew full well who Andrew Caruana Galizia was and the reason for being picked on.

Yet, a senior civil servant simply bowed her head and executed the cruel and traitorous orders of her minister – nothing short of dereliction of duty.

The minister’s feigned amnesia is revolting. Nobody believes his excuses, nobody believes his cover-up for Castille. Nobody buys his pathetic explanation that people are frequently moved.

Andrew Caruana Galizia was targeted for one reason alone – sheer vindictiveness and cruelty aimed to coerce his mother to stop revealing Muscat’s corrupt deals.

Is Abela not haunted by the thought of the anguish and pain he caused a mother who had only weeks to live? Her heart must have been ripped apart, not from the bomb blast, but by his callous and cold-blooded vindictive action against her son – an action for which she would have no doubt blamed herself.

Was this the penultimate weapon against her? It worked for a short time as she pulled back from her writing – but it didn’t last. Her commitment to the truth won. Her work continued, which is why the ultimate weapon was deployed against her.

We can all see Abela for what he is – a soulless coward cowering at the feet of his old master, even after his resignation in disgrace; a cog in the relentless and ruthless machine that destroyed her.

We must demand accountability from ministers and our parliamentary representatives. Also from our senior civil servants. We expect them to stand up and speak out in the face of wrongdoing. Sheer incompetence and nauseating obeisance cannot be tolerated. Less so active abuse of power and the subsequent cover-up that always follows.

Abela has not only acted shamefully and vindictively but continues to conceal the truth. What secrets are being used to blackmail him into secrecy? Why is he so afraid to utter a word of truth? How much longer will he humiliate himself?

If he had a shred of decency, he could still redeem himself by testifying truthfully and showing remorse for his part in the brutal persecution of a journalist.

Honorable minister, pack your bags and go search for your amygdala.

Kevin Cassar is a professor of surgery and former PN candidate.

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