As Robert Abela, prime minister and former adviser to disgraced ex-prime minister Joseph Muscat, stood up in parliament yesterday morning to deliver his reality-bending speech about the conclusions of the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry, all around him were ranged the defiant, malevolent faces of the most disreputable government ever in the history of Malta.
I suppose we could be charitable and assume it’s Abela’s limited intellect that prevents him from properly comprehending what the report says, but I’m not sure that could explain why he believes the document exonerates the members of his government from culpability in the assassination of Malta’s best and bravest journalist.
The report quite clearly states the exact opposite. The government IS responsible for having created the unspeakable environment in which murderers were blithely engaged to destroy the life of another human being, by depraved individuals whose only motivation was the desire to continue their wholesale ransacking of the nation without the danger of being exposed by Caruana Galizia’s dedicated, fearless work.
Quite contrary to what Abela and his puppet-master Muscat, separately, said, the report does not say that no members of the government, or Muscat himself, were directly implicated in the actual murder itself.
What the report says is that it was not in the inquiry’s remit to establish criminal guilt, which is in the hands of the relevant judicial authorities to decide. This has been twisted and distorted by both current and former premiers and reinterpreted as exoneration from guilt.
Of course, at the same time, both Abela and Muscat said they accept the conclusions of the inquiry, seemingly oblivious to the ludicrous and obvious contradiction in their statements.
It was not exoneration. Quite the reverse. Despite not examining the innocence or guilt of people potentially involved in the murder itself, the board still found extensive proof of the state’s culpability.
Guilty as charged
Here, in a nutshell, are some of the main conclusions of the report:
1. High-ranking officials failed to do their jobs before and after the assassination was carried out
2. The police commissioner and other high-level police officers, and executives of the MFSA and FIAU neglected to take action where it should have been taken
3. Hostile behaviour against Caruana Galizia was orchestrated by the state which served to encourage the scumbags who actually committed the murder
4. Evidence makes it clear that a small group of people planned and carried out the murder with the aim of protecting their business interests and future plans
5. The state failed to take action to protect Caruana Galizia from manifest risks of violence towards her
6. The state failed to protect her property, take timely action to prevent the crime, or to investigate her allegations
7. The case against the state is further aggravated by its active involvement in the creation of the climate of impunity, in the dehumanisation of the journalist and even more grievous accusations yet to be verified about who facilitated the murder from a position of office
8. Extensive proof that high-ranking police officers and public authorities sought to assist suspects by deflecting journalists in the wrong direction
9. Extensive proof indicating that the state must shoulder responsibility for creating an environment that enabled the crime
10. Regulatory entities failed to take any kind of action to avoid or minimise the risks to Caruana Galizia
Abela may be in a state of denial, or more likely, too slow-witted to realise that there’s no way to spin this as positive for his government, which, let’s not forget, still harbours the same clutch of crooks as Muscat’s did.
Each member of the government is implicated: the report expressly fingers the entire Cabinet as bearing responsibility, those who actively engaged in criminal behaviour and those who shored them up, supported and enabled them to continue their wrong-doing with impunity. That includes deputy prime minister Chris Fearne.
Fearne also made a speech. Totally unrepentant, characteristically smug, he seems to believe the report’s conclusions refer to all his colleagues, but leave him unchastised. Malta isn’t an island of assassins, he said plaintively. But the public inquiry board disagree with him – and they make it clear he too is a big part of the reason it is.
In December 2017 Fearne was interviewed by Tim Sebastian, smirking and sneering, answering his questions about corruption and criminality with such obvious gaslighting and adolescent-style circle arguments that I blushed for him.
When Sebastian asked about Daphne’s last post – “there are crooks everywhere you look now, the situation is desperate” – Fearne attempted to cast suspicion onto then leader of the Opposition, Adrian Delia, telling Sebastian that Delia had been Caruana Galizia’s main target in the last few months before her death and hinting strongly that investigators should be looking in Delia’s direction.
But there were others there whose continued presence in government is enough to tell us that Abela has no intention of fulfilling any of the empty pledges he made yesterday.
Glenn Bedingfield, Muscat’s grotesque skivvy in Castille, set up a blog designed specifically to attack Daphne and feed his knuckle-dragging readers with vicious lies to spread about her.
The hideous behaviour of this pig-ignorant disrupter of parliamentary processes, whose only purpose is to frustrate proceedings, protect his criminal colleagues and block the discovery of the truth about the corruption and criminality of the government he represents, was singled out for special mention in the report.
The “orchestrated plan” to dehumanise Caruana Galizia, and turn her into a figure of hate in order to neutralise the political impact of her reporting, “which was successful because it was orchestrated by the Office of the Prime Minister” was all Bedingfield, venomous, quasi-illiterate but naturally effective in mobilising PL’s core support into a frenzied army of haters.
And of course, Bedingfield is also the source of the insidious insinuations about the Caruana Galizia family and the red herring demands for Daphne’s laptop.
Then there’s Rosianne Cutajar, shameless cavorter with known owner of 17 Black and accused murderer of Daphne Caruana Galizia, sitting behind Abela and entertaining herself by flicking her hair and playing with her covid mask as though it were a fashion accessory she was test-driving for yet another cringe-making juvenile Instagram post.
Has she still got accused murderer Yorgen Fenech’s €9,000 tip in her handbag? We know she’s spent the rest of the brokerage fee she said she never took for that particular deal already because her sidekick told Standards Commissioner George Hyzler she used it to buy a house.
It’s worth remembering, at this point, that Cutajar’s unsuitability to be in politics was first pointed out by Caruana Galizia, who exposed her insalubrious career as a “hostess” in Catania when “Nuxellina” was first elected Labour mayor of Qormi.
How ironic that this unsavoury individual should be discovered to have been having a “close relationship” with the accused murderer of Caruana Galizia herself, so close, indeed, that she laid herself open to conflict of interest sanctions when she made her one and only speech at the Council of Europe a defence of the man accused of having murdered Caruana Galizia.
And why is Edward Zammit Lewis still tolerated in Abela’s government? How on earth does the prime minister think he can claim to be doing everything in his power to strengthen the rule of law and implement reforms when an accused murderer’s bosom buddy, text-mate and bromance travel buddy is sitting at the same table as him, day in and day out?
Owen Bonnici, Michael Farrugia, Edward Scicluna…the list of miscreants fingered by this report includes most current and former members of cabinet, including ex-ministers Konrad Mizzi and Chris Cardona.
Abela has only one path open to him if he wants to salvage anything at all for himself. Every single malefactor within his government must be sacked, dismissed in disgrace, without any kind of payout or golden handshake.
Silvio Camilleri, then outgoing chief justice, warned on 2 October 2017 that Malta was heading towards a situation where “instead of rule of law we will have the rule of delinquents”. He was proved right barely two weeks later when the very villains he cautioned against carried out the brutal murder of Caruana Galizia.
The prime minister’s shameful discourse in parliament on Friday proved yet again that Camilleri’s prescience was correct. The delinquents have been running riot through the country, unchecked and unfettered for eight years.
Abela’s only viable course of action is to rid himself, and us, of the villains in his government. Unfortunately, his speech yesterday made it clear he lacks both the will and the courage to do what must be done.