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Human trafficking on pirate island

The Muscat Regime was like a cross between King Midas and Pig Pen from Peanuts. Everything il-Kink touched turned to gold for him and his friends — but it was crusted in filth for everyone else.

Thankfully, that nightmare is over. Robert Abela is a different kind of leader.

Sure, his tenure began as a series of false starts, folding in the face of public pressure in his desperation to be liked. But there is one area where Bobby Backdown remained uncharacteristically firm: his determination not to investigate Muscat or Keith Schembri, not to look into the Vitals Global Healthcare deal, and not to rock the construction industry’s lucrative concrete boat.

Abela’s trademark non-action was taken to a new level last month when Malta stopped saving migrants in distress within its legal Search and Rescue zone (SAR).

Of course, they didn’t have the guts to say, “We’re not willing to help anymore. We’re just letting them drown.” No, they simply stopped answering the phone.

Malta is quick to claim offshore oil rights, or the right to dump construction waste in its territorial waters, but when it comes to taking responsibility for vessels in distress, that’s someone else’s problem.

But don’t worry, it’s all taken care of.

Former spectacles sales clerk and government hot potato Neville Gafa finally admitted under oath that he’s coordinating the pushback of migrants to Libya on the orders of the Office of the Prime Minister.

But it wasn’t just the Easter weekend return of 51 people to war torn Libya by fishing boat that Gafa arranged. He’s been doing it for the past three years, thanks to a secret deal between Malta and the failed State next door.

What a meteoric career he’s had, from eyewear upsells — “Would you like to add a case to your order? How about a nice soft polishing cloth?” — to pseudo-diplomat messing about with people’s lives. Anything’s possible in the land of the Kickback King as long as you have friends of friends.

Sadly, a shocking number of people see Gafa as some sort of hero protecting an island under siege.

It’s creating division among otherwise compassionate citizens who are concerned about rising levels of immigration, and a European crisis that has placed them on the front lines simply due to geography.

But fighting for fairness does not mean stubbornly doing nothing while watching people drown.

To make matters worse, Abela wrapped his decisions in the flag, implying the Party in power and the nation are one and the same. If you’re not with him, you’re against him. Therefore, you hate your country.

See how simple that is?

Sure enough, the usual trolls took his cue and crawled out of their caves, with former V18 artistic director Mario Phillip Azzopardi calling opposition MP Jason Azzopardi a traitor, and saying about MEP Roberta Metsola, “In better days, she would have been hung for treason”.

Mario Phillip Azzopardi is an expert on just about everything because he worked on a few B-list TV shows in Canada. Then, he went ‘back to his country’ to shove his face in the trough when il-Kink came to power.

When he isn’t puking bile in support of his corrupt patrons, he can be counted on to spout the sort of misogynist nonsense that makes me wonder how badly he was rejected in high school.

But the washed up director is just a vapid windbag with anger management issues. It’s these ‘patriots’ with guns who are a bigger concern.

Abela is like a child playing with matches next to the woodshed. He isn’t just exploiting fears of overpopulation and viral contagion. The prime minister is inciting xenophobia in a country where two soldiers are on trial for the drive by shooting of a migrant, something they did for fun.

It’s no wonder Bobby lost it when Repubblika called for an inquiry into the recent migrant drownings. Gafa’s revelation implicates him, too. For the first time since he was sworn in as Prime Minister, the baggage clinging to this government is being hung around his own neck, along with the legal consequences of his decisions.

Now, I suppose we might expect the Prime Minister to wash his hands of Gafa. Abela did make a big show of ‘firing’ the employee no minister wanted to claim when he was sworn in.

But I wouldn’t hold much hope for that. You see, Robert Abela was Gafa’s lawyer when ol’ Neville was accused of claiming hundreds of hours of overtime payments that he wasn’t entitled to as a person of trust. Gafa also received a generous ‘disturbance allowance’, a car allowance, and free mobile and internet connection. 

But wait, there’s more. Abela was also a legal consultant to Joseph Muscat too.

So Backdown Bobby was representing both Gafa and the OPM, defending one client against claims imposed by the Foundation for Medical Services when Gafa worked there on behalf of his other client.

Cue up the duelling banjos. This thing’s more inbred than an Appalachian family reunion.

Abela wasn’t kidding when he promised ‘continuity’.

Malta’s reputation as an up-and-coming European nation sure has been dragged through the ditch over the past seven years.

MONEYVAL is breathing down Malta’s neck, and banishment to the financial jurisdiction Grey List is looking increasingly likely as long as Muscat, Schembri and Mizzi remain untouchable.

You’ve got a major arms dealer — with close connections to Erik Prince, Head of what used to be a private military contractor called Blackwater — using Malta as a forward base for their deals in African conflict zones.

And now the Neville Gafa Libyan Pushback Scheme, using fishing boats instead of military patrol craft to drag desperate people back to a failed State run by warlords. But sometimes a fishing boat simply won’t do. They’re also renting Captain Morgan cruise boats — totally unfit for purpose — and letting 57 drift. As long as they don’t drift back into Malta’s territorial waters, they’ll be someone else’s problem.

At this point, the Maltese government is an active participant in human trafficking.

But don’t get me wrong. They’ll still sell you an EU passport as long as you’ve got the cash. Bobby Backdown’s got you covered on Pirate Island.

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