The political survival of a generation of politicians, convicted by an independent board of judges for creating and preserving the environment that killed a journalist, depends on everyone forgetting that conviction or entirely misunderstanding it.
The Daphne Caruana Galizia inquiry report documents the irrefutable evidence that Malta’s democracy is corrupted. We may think the country is ruled by the will of the people. But the real decisions are taken by a hidden cabal of favoured politicians, ruthless business clans and hardened, violent criminals.
The independent inquiry then found that the cabal rules over us because they are surrounded by people who enable them to do that. The inquiry explicitly blames Joseph Muscat’s cabinet ministers, who cannot justify having done nothing after the Panama Papers and after the 17 Black revelations. The inquiry goes on to identify senior civil servants, an army of persons of trust, bent police officers, regulators and enforcement agents and finds they enabled the impunity that killed Caruana Galizia.
The inquiry had no doubts. At the top of the pyramid of impunity sat Muscat. From his office came the lies and the manipulation. From his authority came the protection for Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi. From his friendships came the airs of the people who killed Daphne and fully expected to get away with it.
No tyrant, however, can rule alone. Muscat was possible because Chris Fearne was too loyal to defy him, Evarist Bartolo too spineless to criticise him, George Vella too ambitious to distance himself from his creature.
Muscat was possible because Glenn Bedingfield and his team of apparatchiks at Castille were willing to lie systemically for him.
Muscat was possible because Lawrence Cutajar was prepared to look away and Peter Grech preferred to stay in bed, and Joe Cuschieri and Heathcliff Farrugia preferred to protect Muscat’s deals, not expose them.
Muscat says he paid “the ultimate price” and has no more account to give of himself. That’s debatable but, at least, he hasn’t been prime minister for 18 months now. And, yet, the infrastructure that enabled him, the people that propped him up, the corrupt officials who took our country from us to hand it over to the criminals that wanted it for themselves still have the keys to the safe.
The real decisions are taken by a hidden cabal of favoured politicians, ruthless business clans and hardened, violent criminals
Robert Abela – Muscat’s personal attorney and chosen heir – reacted to the inquiry in a rehearsed show of survival. “Sorry” is not the hardest word for one who does not mean it. Otherwise, he sounded like he expected congratulations for half-guessing some of the recommendations the inquiry would come up with and introducing dead-letter legislation that sounds right.
Muscat’s cabinet ministers are Abela’s cabinet ministers. The people who have now been convicted by a state organ of enabling a murder, expect that Muscat’s resignation and Abela’s half-hearted apology to be punishment enough and they can go on as if nothing has ever happened.
Their objective now is too live down this inquiry and screw themselves to their borrowed powers until the next general election confirms them in office and absolves them of their sins.
We will not merely be stuck with them. We will be stuck with their unacceptable relationships with criminals, their obligations to Muscat, their network of bent cops and compromised officials and their persons of trust. We will preserve the same impunity that has already killed one journalist and shows no signs of having had enough.
The same morning the inquiry report came out, Edward Zammit Lewis and Bedingfield, together with Anġlu Farrugia, covered up an independent report that found Rosianne Cutajar had an inappropriate relationship with alleged journalist-killer Yorgen Fenech. They reduced her case to a tax issue they knew has already been settled on her behalf by her unqualified but viscerally loyally person of trust, it-Tikka, paid to fall on her sword.
Zammit Lewis cannot be keener to close the case because he too had an inappropriate relationship with alleged journalist-killer Fenech. And Bedingfield’s allegiance is transparent. Consider his defence of Fenech’s accomplices in the corruption that the inquiry is convinced killed Caruana Galizia.
Farrugia, on the other hand, owes his office to Muscat, a reward given to him for getting out of the way of the systemic corruption he witnessed when he was deputy leader of the Labour Party. He is the original sinner of the collective guilt of self-preserving politicians who licensed Muscat’s corruption with their bought silence.
In those three acolytes of Muscat wanting to survive and making sure they do whatever the inquiry says about them, witness then the survival of the old, rotten, corrupt republic. These are the rotten political criminals found responsible by the inquiry for allowing a journalist to be killed, that expect to have their lease on the power over us renewed at an election.
The team of judges led by Michael Mallia were our own version of the ‘Clean Hands’ team led by Antonio di Pietro in the 1990s in Italy.
The three judges have also done the work of judges like Giovanni Falcone in that they are the first agency of the state to explicitly declare that Malta needs anti-mafia legislation on the lines designed by Falcone.
When the judges of Italy brought down its first republic, the politicians who avoided prison went into retirement. They became “the unpresentables”, excluded from electoral lists in subsequent elections not so much to exclude them from politics as to prevent their network of criminals and mafiosi friends from retaining their grip on the institutions of the state.
It is time for Malta’s Second Republic. But that won’t happen while the crooks of the first one still have something to say about that.
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