In a protest calling for the resignation of Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis after further revelations relating to his intimate conversations with alleged murder suspect Yorgen Fenech, civil society NGO Repubblika gifted him a door emblazoned with a quote: “Aħjar Ġaħan milli lagħaqi tal-kriminali” (‘it’s better to be an idiot than suck up to criminals’).
The door, a reference to popular folklore character Ġaħan, mocked the justice minister’s use of the term in chats with accused mastermind Yorgen Fenech. Ġaħan’s tales of hapless stupidity made his name synonymous with the word ‘idiot’ in the Maltese language.
In one of his most famous exploits, Ġaħan’s mother asks him to “pull the door behind him” (‘iġbed il-bieb warajk’) as he exits the house, a cue Ġaħan obeys to the letter by pulling the door off its hinges and carrying it off with him.
According to news reports based on leaked WhatsApp chats, in one exchange of messages between the justice minister and Fenech, Zammit Lewis had referred to his colleagues in Cabinet as a bunch of “children and posers” with “zero political competence”, adding that “this is what the idiotic Labour voter wants”.
In the texts, Zammit Lewis had also repeatedly affirmed his support for Fenech, at one point expressing pride in knowing him personally in spite of the fact that Fenech had already been outed as the owner of 17 Black.
“If the prime minister doesn’t fire you straight away, the apology he gave us last week will have been nothing but posing; if Robert Abela doesn’t remove you immediately, he is showing that his political competence really is zero,” Repubblika president Robert Aquilina said in front of Zammit Lewis’ office on Tuesday.
“We will wait and see whether Robert Abela also treats his voters like idiots by leaving you in your position or whether he does what he needs to do,” Aquilina added.
Aquilina also referred to a press conference given by Zammit Lewis and prime minister Robert Abela in January 2019. Abela was still a backbencher at the time. Zammit Lewis had contacted Fenech immediately after, mocking then opposition leader Simon Busuttil’s efforts to get a magisterial inquiry on 17 Black launched.
“Yorgen Fenech knows how to choose friends in the corridors of power. In fact, he seems to have had a lot of friends among the Labour government,” he added, referring also to Fenech’s connections with former prime minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri, former parliamentary secretary Rosianne Cutajar, and former prime minister Joseph Muscat.
“This is why we are here today; how can our country ever have justice and good governance when this is who we have as our justice minister?” Aquilina asked.
“Discourse about national unity is worthless if we still have people in charge who were found to be responsible for the assassination of a journalist by a public inquiry board,” he continued.
“We will never join forces with someone whose hands are stained with blood,” Aquilina added, urging the government and the police force, in particular, to act immediately for swift prosecutions and convictions as “the country can wait no longer”.