“This poser was behind the greatest lie of the 2008 electoral campaign,” Jason Micallef had declared, and now “he is pontificating about his virginity”. That poser, Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, has penned his autobiography. In it, he claims to take down “assholes and traitors”. Kettles and a pot spring to mind.
The autobiography is a self-serving demolition of that most fragile of things – factual truth. But it is also a self-mythologising narrative so detached from reality that it is beyond fiction.
Pullicino Orlando states that “the political violence of the 80s was instigated by the PN, encouraging hotheads like us to foment trouble”. He claims that at the notorious 1986 tal-Barrani meeting “the Nationalists doled out loaded revolvers on the day”.
Revolvers? Pullicino Orlando must have watched too many Westerns. He even claimed he was offered a “revolver” himself by a party activist when he was only 18.
He concluded that at tal-Barrani “there was no clear cut right or wrong side – both parties made mistakes”.
The factual truth is very different. On 22 November 1986, the PN applied for a police permit to hold a mass meeting in Zejtun. That permit was issued on 25 November but promptly withdrawn the next day.
PN Leader Eddie Fenech Adami had filed a constitutional case against then-prime minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici and former police commissioner Lawrence Pullicino, later jailed for murder.
The court ruled that prohibiting the meeting breached the Consitution and fundamental human rights. The court of appeal confirmed the decision stating that Maltese society should uphold fundamental human rights by controlling those who illegally attempt to subvert those rights.
The evening before the meeting, Labour thugs barred entry into Zejtun with trucks and rubble. The police failed to intervene. On the day, all access into Zejtun was blocked. The crowd was attacked by Labour supporters and the police’s Special Mobile Unit (SMU).
Tear gas was fired and firearms discharged. Several people were injured. Cars were set ablaze. An Armed Forces helicopter hovered above the scene as Minister Lorry Sant coordinated the attack.
Then-prime minister Mifsud Bonnici, Sant and Task Force Commander Cachia were recorded in conversation. Mifsud Bonnici was at the Task Forces’ Luqa headquarters.
When a man was grievously injured, Sant asked, “is he blue or red?”. “We don’t know,” was the answer.
Mifsud Bonnici joined in. He asked Cachia: “Hello, where are you? I’ll ask Wistin (Minister Wistin Abela) to tell you how to get there?”
“Another truck is on fire, the police have launched another tear gas raid. Three trucks are burning”.
“Do the trucks belong to them (PN)?” “Yes, Onorevoli”.
“Well done, and keep it up” (Prosit, komplu) came the reply.
Twelve years later, Labour thugs were finally arraigned in court. The evidence was overwhelming. John Zammit testified that he saw the thugs firing tear gas into the crowd, one of the canisters into his car. As he fled, the thugs set his car on fire.
John Saliba was beaten with stones and his own umbrella. Joseph Grima saw firearm flashes and was shot in the leg. Rose Gauci’s nose was bitten off.
Annunziata Falzon and her husband were hit with a gunshot. Gemma Calleja was hit on the head while hiding in a scrapyard. She lost consciousness and required surgery.
Margaret Grech saw masked men armed with helmets and rifles. Her car was surrounded as she escaped. When she returned to collect her car it was a burnt-out wreck. Raymond Agius was attacked with stones and his car burnt.
Joseph Grima was shot in his thigh and was carried into the fields. Nazzarena Borg was hit with a rock, losing large volumes of blood and required hospital treatment. Carmelo Azzopardi was shot in his left hand and required surgery to remove the bullet.
The next day, Labour supporters fired a submachine gun at the Tarxien PN club. It was empty and nobody was hurt. Four days later the Gudja PN club was sprayed with machine gunfire. Raymond Caruana lost his life.
One week later Pietru Pawl Busuttil’s farm was raided and the murder weapon planted by police. Busuttil was arraigned in court.
These were not mistakes. This was orchestrated violence by Labour Party thugs aided by police, led by government ministers against a crowd including women and children. This was a despicable perversion of justice where an innocent man was framed and driven to the verge of insanity, falsely accused of a murder he hadn’t committed.
For Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, there was no “right or wrong”. That’s hardly surprising.
This was the man who falsely registered as a part time farmer, who dishonestly accused Alfred Sant of lying about him, as he concealed a contract to develop a club on his Natura 2000 land in Mistra. He had applied pressure on the Planning Authority (then called MEPA) and MTA officials to issue the required permit.
Pullicino Orlando hounded Alfred Sant, haranguing him while posing as a journalist at a Broadcasting Authority press conference. He accused Sant of being a liar and a coward. He farcically shed crocodile tears at a PN event. He sued Sant for accusing him of corruption. Seven years later the court concluded that Sant’s comments were “objectively fair and honestly founded on facts”.
When Gordon Pisani, PN information officer, confronted Pullicino Orlando about the Mistra contract, he claimed he was fainting and unwell. When a driver was sent to pick him up to go to PN headquarters, he didn’t open the door. He claimed he couldn’t find the contract. But then went back and found it instantly. “Is the contract worth hundreds, thousands?” Pisani had asked him. “Isn’t it better if you didn’t know?”, Pullicino Orlando had replied.
As he lied, he deceitfully attacked Alfred Sant and played the victim, “I am the victim of Labour’s malicious and vile attacks”.
In 2011, Pullicino Orlando was asked “Will you defect to Labour?”. “I will never do that,” he stated firmly “I will find it very weird”. Not half as weird as his fanciful autobiography – and his pursuit of a lasting victory at the expense of reality.