The Deputy Leader of the Labour Party is accused of being involved in a murder plot.
I suppose that’s nothing new in Malta, where the Office of the Prime Minister was already implicated in the same brutal killing.
But Chris Cardona’s links to the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia go back much further than Yorgen Fenech’s dramatic arrest on the high seas.
A burner phone was apparently found in the sea near the hitmen’s famous Marsa potato shed with only Cardona’s number on it.
Alfred Degiorgio’s daughter was given a job at the Economy Ministry in the summer of 2017, a few months before the murder.
Cardona’s business partner, David Gatt, was accused (and cleared) of the same robbery as indicted assassin Vince Muscat, and reportedly hung out at that same potato shed. Melvin Theuma claims the ex-cop turned lawyer threatened the Degiorgios they’d be killed if they implicated Cardona in the assassination.
And now middleman — and State’s witness — Theuma has testified that Cardona passed €350,000 to Alfred Degiorgio through a middleman.
But surely when it comes to credible accusations of being involved in a murder, denials in the press are not an adequate defence? How can the State base its prosecution on Theuma’s testimony while selectively ignoring the parts they don’t want to hear?
The police don’t need permission to act, and they don’t need to be told to investigate Cardona. On the contrary, it’s their job.
But the Malta Police have a seven-year track record of ignoring corruption. Their internal corruption scandal — with more than half the country’s traffic police indicted in an overtime scam — has made them a global laughing stock. It doesn’t surprise me to see them ignoring this, too.
I feel sorry for the country’s honest officers. Their job must be such a disheartening uphill battle.
The possibility is growing that more than one person paid to have Caruana Galizia killed. And motives aren’t in short supply, given the number of scandals she exposed among Muscat’s Guild of Thieves — sorry, the former prime minister’s Cabinet.
Keith Schembri — whose name keeps coming up in both Theuma’s recordings and the independent public inquiry — is as untouchable as he was at this time last year.
It reminds me of that moment last November when the recently arrested Fenech strutted down Republic Street followed by a swarm of reporters. No one doubted his involvement in Malta’s most shocking murder, not after the coward tried to run away. But there he was walking down the street cracking jokes without a police officer in sight.
I thought I was watching a really bad film. Either a totally implausible one, or the one where the main witness gets plugged in broad daylight.
But life in Malta doesn’t operate by the same set of rules that govern the normal world.
Cardona is still Labour’s Deputy Leader. He holds a position of power in the Party that controls the government — and every institution — in Malta. He isn’t exactly facing his accuser on equal ground.
Surely the Prime Minister has the common sense — and the backbone — to remove him from this post until the case is resolved?
Or is Cardona untouchable too, like Muscat and Schembri?
Speaking of the disgraced ex-Kink of Kickbackistan, when will the police get around to questioning him? His name came up in the recordings, too, where he was referred to as ‘Ix-Xiħ’. Are they afraid of him, or are they just in his pocket like the rest?
When will Konrad Mizzi be dragged back from the UK to face police interrogation? Is he stalling for time, counting on Brexit to avoid extradition? The work’s been done. All you have to do is reel in the suspect. Pop by the FIAU and collect the evidence. It’s been collecting dust there for years.
Do you not see it as a problem that powerful politicians are named in court but never questioned?
And what’s happening with Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta? You know, the one who was caught passing information on the investigation to the chief suspect? Why isn’t Valletta behind bars?
I thought things had finally changed last December. I thought the Maltese had had enough. That rage had overcome inertia and the vague fears of revenge that kept heads below the parapet, waiting for someone else to take the risk.
For two months, the streets of Valletta were a truly inspiring place. But nothing has changed.
And you can be sure that nothing will change unless you demand it. You caused them to retreat in December, but that fight was far from over when COVID-19 bought them a little time.
The criminals who are running the country aren’t going anywhere — and they aren’t going to prosecute themselves, either.
Abela is silent. Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne is silent. And Evarist Bartolo claims to work his silent way behind the scenes while going cryptic on Facebook to soothe his soiled conscience.
They are complicit. Don’t expect any help from them.
It’s almost as though the court is a game, or a charade being played for the benefit of international audiences who have come to regard Malta with a sense of disbelief bordering on revulsion.
They play their roles and then walk out of court and go on with their lives, making hay while Muscat’s sun still shines from behind his puppet Bodybuilder Prince.