Sleeping with the fishes

The publication of the conclusions of the public inquiry into the brutal assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, carried out by a yet unknown number of conspirators that include accused murderer and WhatsApp buddy of many a Labour minister, Yorgen Fenech, has brought prime minister Robert Abela a host of problems, some forseeable, others less so – at least to those of us on the outside.

Shamed, humiliated, disgraced, run-out-of-town former prime minister Joseph Muscat is one of those problems.

The mafia usually uses a dead fish to warn someone that they’re in their sights. The hot weather may have made sticking to tradition less attractive, or perhaps this particular threat, though directed at a very specific individual, was also designed for a wider audience.

But Muscat, the man who conned an entire country out of its money, its reputation and its very livelihood, chose to issue his barely veiled menaces through The Times of Malta.

There’s an argument to be made that in using The Times, Muscat was still metaphorically sticking to tradition, but that’s a discussion for another day. The once-illustrious institution that kept its presses going throughout the Second World War, that went to print even after being ransacked by the Labour hordes of the 1970s, has long lost its lustre and its crown.

There’s a very good reason Muscat chose to give his first interview in years to The Times: the newspaper was his biggest (unwitting?) ally and most sharply-calibrated missile in the scheme to take power in 2013 and set in motion the criminal ‘roadmap’ to riches that he and his sordid band of ‘childhood friends’ cooked up as they waited, drooling in the wings, the five long years from 2008 to 2013.

The most corrupt man of 2019, though he deserves that title on a yearly basis from 2013 onwards, proved yesterday that like all the most despicable mafia bosses, he may be out of sight most of the time, but he’s most certainly not out of touch. And he’ll emerge from time to time, from whatever seedy Dubai business deals he’s cooking up during his exile, to remind his coven that he’s still holding the whip as tightly as he ever did.

When Sicilian mafia ‘boss of bosses’ Toto ‘The Beast” Riina was finally arrested in 1993 after a quarter of a century on the run, having murdered at least 150 people and ordered the assassinations of Judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, many of his fellow Corleone townspeople lamented his absence. They wailed that he’d kept the peace in the town, that everyone had jobs when he was around, that his presence in town had improved their lives.

His successor, Bernardo Provenzano, arrested in 2006 after 43 years on the run, had been living almost all that time in a farmhouse in the self-same town of Corleone, fed, watered and ministered to by a host of faithful Corleonesi, who protected him from the law for almost half a century.

Muscat’s message to Robert Abela, delivered via Malta’s very own version of the dead fish with the gaping mouth, was a crudely obvious invocation of his own access to the equivalent of those ignorant, misguided, and, ultimately, complicit, Corleonesi.

“I see a chorus of people supporting me,” Muscat said, “an unprecedented number of people supporting me….I still feel the people’s love.”

In one of the most bizarre responses from a former premier I have ever heard of, Muscat threatened to return to local politics “if people continue annoying me”.

If people continue annoying him? The puerile phrase, the spotty-teenager defiance, the open-ended, bullying ultimatum – at first glance, it seems ludicrous, in a vomit-inducing way. But the reality is far more sinister.

This unspeakable individual – who leapt into power with the same ethos as Ali Baba’s forty thieves, who created a government built on crime, corruption and wholescale looting of the nation’s wealth, who allowed a hate blogger to coordinate a campaign of vicious attacks on Caruana Galizia from within his own office and who did his utmost to block, scuttle and delay the start of the public inquiry in the first place – this man is using The Times to shoot a warning out to Robert Abela, first of all, but also, it seems to me, to anyone who might pose a threat to him.

Abela, however, is being openly threatened, by the man found guilty of enabling and facilitating the assassination of Malta’s leading journalist. Muscat may not have pulled the trigger himself, but per the public inquiry’s conclusions, as well as the European Parliament’s resolution, he is, effectively, responsible for Caruana Galizia’s murder.

Muscat made the slaying possible, by fostering a climate of hate towards Caruana Galizia, by installing puppet figures in the police, the courts, the prosecutors’ offices, by defending and supporting exposed money-launderers and bribe-takers, by endorsing deals so corrupt they make one’s hair stand on end.

The public inquiry conclusions, damning as they are, are no doubt part of the catalyst that spurred Muscat to pull The Times’ chain to demand the space to issue his Maltese-mafia-style fatwa to his cowering successor.

The report makes clear that, while the inquiry board itself had no power to make arrests or carry out the criminal investigations that should have been carried out years ago, the government and the police must finally act.

This means Abela has been pushed into a very tight corner. If he fails to take the actions recommended by the inquiry board, Malta’s goose is well and truly cooked on the international stage.

With the European Parliament and the FATF, as well as a host of other bodies, scrutinising every move his cabinet makes, or fails to make, brushing off the monumentous conclusions of the public inquiry would be akin to picking up a pen himself to cross out the word “grey” and insert the word “black” in its stead.

Ignoring the public inquiry’s report would be national suicide. I almost wrote national hara-kiri, but that implies an element of honour. This type of suicide would be as far removed from honour as Abela is from intelligent life.

But if he does start to implement those recommendations? That’s where Muscat’s interview comes in. Abela is being reminded that the succubus on his back is there to stay. Courtesy of the one reliable hot-weather-substitute dead fish Muscat has always been able to count on.

It’s also likely that the long-delayed indictment of accused murderer Yorgen Fenech for his part in the diabolical plot to kill Caruana Galizia earlier this week played at least some part in the artful dodger’s decision to issue his public menace to Abela.

Fenech’s statements to the police about Muscat’s closest confidante, accused financial criminal Keith Schembri, are the crack in the door into which any self-respecting policeman would be shoving his size nines and bursting open.

If I were Robert Abela, this is what I’d be hearing in Muscat’s venomous words: Remember who put you where you are now, remember that my people “love” me, remember whatever it is you too knew, or did, as you sat at my side during my six-year crime spree, my six years as the publicly acknowledged ‘boss of bosses’ of Malta’s pseudo-socialist mafia paradise. And above all, remember that I’ve not gone away, I’m only 47 and my history hasn’t been written yet.

The word on the street is that Abela’s stopped taking Muscat’s calls. But, as Muscat promptly reminded him, it’s too late for that. As the old saying goes, he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon. Abela’s choice to forego any spoon at all sealed his fate years ago.

                           
                               
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Marija
Marija
1 month ago

You know what? He is right… he is right about the people’s love. There were loads of comments in that vein following the publication of the interview.

viv
viv
1 month ago
Reply to  Marija

Well, cult of personalty in effect. Something tells me Capn Bob is going to have to do a Kruschev and denounce ol’ Joe

kenny mcilwee
kenny mcilwee
1 month ago
Reply to  Marija

They are clearly blind foops then

John
John
1 month ago

One very important detail from Muscat’s interview with The Times is the fact that Muscat did defend Bank of Valletta in a very solid way. Why? Why should he defend BoV? Why is a former Prime Minister discussing the business of a bank with whom no reputable correspondent bank want to deal with?

adriang
adriang
1 month ago

Has he made some sort of deal with the US?

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
1 month ago

Joseph Muscat’s so called interview with the TOM made it worse for the European Parliament and FATF to consider de-greying of the country. Muscat made it look like that he is still in control and the present prime minister is a puppet.

Isle of the corrupt
Isle of the corrupt
1 month ago
Reply to  saviour mamo

He is that why

kenny mcilwee
kenny mcilwee
1 month ago
Reply to  saviour mamo

He has always been Muscat the corrupts puppet

Henry s Pace
Henry s Pace
1 month ago

‘ Abela, however, is being openly threatened, by the man found guilty of enabling and facilitating the assassination of Malta’s leading journalist. ‘
Bobby is well included in the run up of Daphne’s killing.

carlo
carlo
1 month ago

I compare jm – the MOST CORRUPT pm MALTA EVER HAD to a mix of the past –
Atatürk, Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Francisco Franco, Mao Tse-tung, Juan Perón, Tito, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Sukarno, Kwame Nkrumah, and Charles de Gaulle, combined with the present ones such as Recep Tayyip Erdogan,Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo,Paul Kagame,Idriss Déby,Bashar Al-Assad,Nicolás Maduro,Pierre Nkurunziza,Kim Jong-un and Ilham – most of them friends to our corrupt ex.pm and his corrupt lot.

The above type of governments were/are characterized by a single leader or group of corrupt members that hold government power promised to the people and little or no toleration for political pluralism or independent media leading to assassination of journalists.

Live by the sword, die by the sword??? For brutal dictators, the adage is more often than not completely false. There may be little justice for the wicked, but the deaths of some of them  do provide some pretty interesting tales, where people had the guts to revolt. 

Isle of the corrupt
Isle of the corrupt
1 month ago
Reply to  carlo

You forgot the alievs from Azerbaijan

carlo
carlo
1 month ago

How can you forget Ilham Aliyev – shown further up? his corruption involves also his family which have also had their laundry washed in Malta assisted by the artful dodger, his wife and their friend.

Andrew Farrugia
Andrew Farrugia
1 month ago
Reply to  carlo

I’d have left out Atuturk, Tito, Nasser and De Gaulle out.

Datt
Datt
1 month ago

For me this interview with Times of Malta was nothing less that a threat to Robert Abela.
As per JM words I quote
“Remember I still have large number of people who supports me (Love me) – he is trying to intimidate someone. Do not try to interfere because I still have support from people.
I’m not done yet….. I might contest another election if they keep annoying me…..

What If JM contest another election and gets elected with more votes than his party leader.. what will happen?

Time is ticking Robert Abela…… Do your part and dissociate yourself from JM “ONCE AND FOR ALL!” if you truly love your Country and the Labour Party.

Last edited 1 month ago by Datt
kenny mcilwee
kenny mcilwee
1 month ago
Reply to  Datt

If Muscat ever dared to come back, that would be political and international suicide for Malta, the powers that be would condem us for sure to international blacklisting.

Austen Lennon
Austen Lennon
1 month ago

Why is it so hard to bring corrupt politicians to justice around the world?

kenny mcilwee
kenny mcilwee
1 month ago
Reply to  Austen Lennon

Only in malta

Isle of the corrupt
Isle of the corrupt
1 month ago

Why is there still no mention of Diane in the Maltese press? Is there a court order that won’t let the press divulge her part?

Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
1 month ago

Brava.
Joseph Muscat remains a 5 year old school boy bully, turned into a corrupt crook whose cowardly affrontation, makes him pull the trigger of vicious spite and envy, faking his silicone invictus status.
I am looking forward to his cross examination in court, as a witness, at least for now, in the case of Mr Petrus Yorgen Fenech, mastermind of the heinous state assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Alfred Camilleri
Alfred Camilleri
1 month ago

Excellent analysis

carlos
1 month ago

I will never ditch keit schembri……….OF COURSE YOU WILL NEVER DITCH keith schembi, he MADE YOU A MILLIONAIRE YOU CROOKED AND SHAMELESS PERSON. GO AND HIDE, YOU DESTROYED THE WORKERS PARTY. SHAME ON YOU CORRUPT SNAKE.

A. Canuck
A. Canuck
1 month ago

Thousands of miles away I can’t believe Times didn’t appreciate that giving the disgraced premier a voice wouldn’t end up the same way it has been for the last several years – distraction, bullying and loading the loyal trolls with content to spread.
Is there anything left in my native country that is not tainted? It’s become embarrassing.

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