For the past five years, our nation has woken up every morning to the news of scandals emanating from decisions taken by the people entrusted to govern our country. 

Nonsensical contracts entered into on our behalf, and largely concealed from the public and its parliamentary representatives, have become too many to count and too blatantly abusive for the public to fully comprehend the present and future implications of such national commitments. 

This deplorable and ongoing state of affairs, reminiscent of a corrupt Third World state and not a democratic EU country, was grossly compounded and taken to an unprecedented level when the journalist investigating and calling out these abuses was brutally murdered outside her home on October 16, 2017.

Since then, the poverty of the investigation conducted has been called out by a number of international fora, and to date the PM has refused to allow a fully independent public inquiry to be conducted, even though it is obvious that time is of the essence in such investigations.  

It is also noteworthy that the same government, under whose watch our journalist was killed, has been doing everything in its power to silence the people commemorating Daphne’s murder and calling for justice. Armies of trolls and ministry employees are known to have been engaged to clean social media platforms and makeshift monuments alike. 

Will a history of mental disorder… henceforth be used to commit political dissenters to psychiatric incarceration?

The general situation recently took a turn for the worse. An ex-police officer, Mario Portelli, now boarded out and a star witness in a case of a police officer allegedly gone rogue (the latter was acquitted with a change in government and a change in Police Commissioner), published a Facebook video stating that Minister Chris Cardona (a close collaborator of David Gatt, the officer in question) was involved in Daphne’s murder and that the Panama company Egrant did in fact belong to the Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat. 

After that video, Portelli disappeared from circulation and from his online presence for a few days. It transpires that a number of high-ranking police officers had turned up at his home and involuntarily committed him to Mount Carmel Hospital for psychiatric support.  

Fast forward a couple of weeks and the same Portelli once again publicly accuses the Prime Minister of having lied under oath in the question of the ownership of Egrant, an issue which the Prime Minister had submitted to a magistrate for investigation within a remit decided by his good self. (It is also noteworthy that the report of this magisterial investigation has never been made available to the public.)

Portelli added that on Sunday he would personally attend the Prime Minister’s gathering to publicly confront him.

A very short time after he published these accusations on Facebook, a squadron of police officers, without a single healthcare professional in sight, once again turned up to forcefully pick him up and involuntarily commit him to the mental hospital.

This time round Portelli filmed the whole episode before his mobile device was snatched out of his hands and silenced. 

In the context of subtle but toxic oppression and the dangerous selective impunity we are living, the way Portelli is being handled and ill-treated takes on an unprecedented significance. 

Countless questions arise which the relevant authorities need to answer. 

Was Portelli’s committal to Mount Carmel Hospital authorised by his psychiatric team?

Is this a case of redrawing the parameters of duties of the police force, to include forceful involuntary committal to psychiatric hospitals of citizens who call out the government’s excesses and criminal behaviour? 

Will a history of mental disorder, even if diagnosed, treated and cured, henceforth be used to commit political dissenters to psychiatric incarceration?

Is the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders being stretched to include concocted conditions like the ‘sluggish schizophrenia’ in soviet Russia, to purge the country of thinkers and non-conformists?

Our highly traumatised people need explanations and answers.

None of us are safe, until we are all safe, from the highly questionable antics of the people we entrusted with the care and protection of our citizens. 

Godfrey Farrugia is the leader of the Democratic Party.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece