After eating magic cake, Alice’s neck shot up like a telescope, unfurling until her head touched the ceiling. “Curiouser and curiouser,” she exclaimed.
That expression from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ alludes to a world where normal rules don’t apply, which is where we’re at – down the rabbit hole into Robert Abela’s wonderland, inhabited by terrifying creatures, and where events get madder and madder.
Emerging from enforced quarantine, Robert Abela faced his umpteenth hot potato. Minister Carmelo Abela was making headlines again – for the wrong reasons again.
This time it wasn’t for abusing government workers to build a wooden veranda on his private residence roof. Neither for abusing taxpayers’ money to promote himself and force the prime minister’s hand to keep his job. Or for forgetting who had ordered him to vindictively recall Andrew Caruana Galizia from his diplomatic post. Or even for forgetting to inform the parliamentary committee that his proposed High Commissioner to Ghana was linked with a fugitive fraudster wanted by the police.
This time Carmelo Abela excelled himself. He forgot he gave evidence about the HSBC heist. For a minister, he surely has a problem with amnesia. If he keeps forgetting Maltese fugitive fraudsters in Ghana and violent bank robberies involving dramatic shoot-outs it’s hard for his prime minister to believe a word he says.
But the prime minister has no niggling doubts about Carmelo Abela. Vince Muscat, il-Koħħu, and the Degiorgio brothers claimed that a sitting minister was directly involved in the bank heist. For his part in the scheme, that minister would pocket €300,000. A bank insider provided access cards to the vault and mobile phone footage of how to access it. Carmelo Abela admitted he was part of the small team that issued access cards.
The police found il-Koħħu’s and the Degiorgios’ claims credible. And launched an investigation into Carmelo Abela and the failed HSBC heist.
But in his wonderland, Robert Abela was having none of it. The allegations, the prime minister insisted, are the result of a “conspiracy between the PN and criminals”.
There is a “strategy and synergy between the PN and organised crime,” he announced. And if you were baffled as to how the prime minister reached this conclusion while providing no evidence, he assured us that “in future more proof will emerge of how PN conspires with organised crime”. For the Leader of a Party that keeps demanding proof for the obvious, evidence for his wild claims is sorely lacking.
The prime minister declared that the PN is trying to gain power by tainting the Minister. Actually, he’s done a pretty good job of it himself.
Robert Abela was flabbergasted how a person accused of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder was given such credibility. But wasn’t it Robert Abela who gave il-Koħħu credibility on 23 February 2021? Abela, and his Cabinet, were so convinced of il-Koħħu’s credibility that he was given a pardon which declared that Muscat would assist the investigations through “credible, reliable and verifiable information”.
Muscat was not only accused but convicted of the murder. Yet Robert Abela found him credible. If a man guilty of a journalist’s murder is credible, why are those presumed innocent, not credible? Abela’s logic is as hair-brained and nonsensical as the pigeon’s in ‘Alice in Wonderland’.
The police don’t doubt the Degiorgios’ and il-Kohhu’s credibility and their allegations about Carmelo Abela. If they doubted it they would not have launched an investigation and requested the release of Carmelo Abela’s sworn testimony he had forgotten about.
The prime minister’s statement is an affront to the police. ‘How can you believe these people?’, he complains. Yet he’s the one who believed il-Koħħu and requested his pardon. The two Abelas only believe the criminal when it suits them.
“The time for decisions to be taken by Żeppi l-Ħafijiet of this world is over,” Robert Abela bragged. “I’m proud to have broken this circle of criminality”.
Żeppi l-Ħafi, who ran the St Julian’s Labour Party bar, was granted a pardon which led to the arraignment of Meinrad Calleja, later acquitted, but at the time suspected of having commissioned the attempted murder of Richard Cachia Caruana. But Robert Abela granted a pardon to a convicted murderer. Which circle of criminality the prime minister refers to is an utter mystery. And how he has broken it, an even bigger one. But Abela believes, like Lewis Carroll’s Bellman in the ‘Hunting of the Snark’, that “what I tell you three times is true”.
The two Abelas’ absurd strategy belongs in Lewis Caroll’s work. While one provides pardons for convicted criminals and the other is an alleged accomplice in a violent bank robbery, their cunning plan is to accuse others of conspiring with criminals.
That a minister of State should resign while under investigation for a serious crime is a sensible and reasonable expectation in any decent democracy. But the Abelas not only reject decency but revel in wild and unsubstantiated accusations of conspiracy with organized crime against those who dare expect it.
Carmelo Abela ‘voluntarily’ went to the police headquarters to make a statement about “the calumny levelled against me by the PN”. But the police weren’t happy. They called him back two days later for questioning.
His story didn’t add up. He forgot he had previously been called to testify in the case. He later remembered he testified, but only as a bank representative. He repeatedly refused to answer whether he had been questioned under caution.
‘Do you not feel you should step down?’, Abela was asked. No answer. Instead, he demanded PN MP Jason Azzopardi’s resignation.
‘Were you aware of the investigation prior to being notified by Judge Giovanni Grixti?’ No answer. “False allegations”, “a conspiracy between PN and criminals,” he raged. His prime minister agreed. Robert Abela will only take action against Carmelo when credible proof emerges.
That’s exactly what Joseph Muscat said about Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi. Where are they now?
“Why, you’re nothing but a pack of cards,” Alice exclaimed as she grasped the futility of attempting to comprehend the nonsensical.