“You are a father and a family man, what is your message for the Caruana Galizia family?” the disgraced former prime-minister was asked. The interviewer was appealing to Joseph Muscat’s human side.
Muscat’s answer was as cold as it was brutal. “I hope that just as I accepted the outcome of the inquiry, they will accept the outcome of the Egrant inquiry”.
He tightened the screw. “If they want an apology, I will make one – even though I’m the prime-minister under whose leadership her alleged killers were caught”.
The interviewer was speechless. So are we, watching in disbelief the detached insensitive schemer still unable to accept responsibility – remorseless and unrepentant. Faced with a tragedy of unbearable magnitude, Muscat retains a psychopathic detachment from the pain he inflicts.
Camus’ novel, The Fall, was hailed as his most beautiful and least understood work. In it Jean Baptiste confesses his sin. Walking along one night he saw a woman fall into the river, he heard her screams as she floated downstream but did nothing to save her life. He is filled with remorse and seeks absolution, knowing he could have saved her life – and didn’t.
Joseph Muscat too could have saved the life of a woman – but didn’t. Unlike Jean Baptiste however he seeks no absolution, remorseless till the end.
Yet Muscat spent more than half his Times of Malta interview deploying his “compassion” for his seriously ill former chief-of-staff as justification for refusing to answer legitimate questions. Muscat refused to “judge” Keith Schembri, refused to condemn him, stands by him.
His repeated references to “the situation he’s going through” relays the subtle message that Muscat refuses to condemn Schembri out of decency – it’s all Keith’s fault, but because he’s ill I “will never ditch him”.
Muscat cannot put the blame on Schembri. When Muscat attempted it, Schembri was categorical in his sworn testimony: “Muscat knew everything, I hid nothing from him”.
Which is why Joseph Muscat refused to answer direct questions. Slithering and squirming, the artful dodger evaded every question, using silence, denials, deflection and lies, so blatant that watching was painful.
You took Schembri to security briefings?. No, he answered, forgetting that Schembri’s attendance is common knowledge. Incredulous, the interviewer insisted, No? Muscat desperately back-peddled. “I mean I didn’t push him to attend”.
“Do you believe Schembri was passing on information?” Muscat dodged the question: “I’m not the jury in all this, if he did or did not, I paid the price”. Muscat knew everything.
“So you don’t believe there was collusion?”. Again Muscat squirmed. “If he did it or not, I paid the price”.
“Why did you keep him in charge of everything?”. More evasion as he deployed the classic tactic – answer a question with another question “What do you mean in charge of everything?”.
Muscat claimed he told the security services about “myself and Yorgen Fenech”. “When?” ”Muscat’s convoluted answer gave no clue: “When… if I give you a date and it turns out to be wrong, you’ll say I was trying to mislead you”.
The interviewer’s task was impossible. Not one straight answer. Muscat simply created a dense fog to conceal the truth. “Did you tell the security services about your chats?” “They were informed” he answered vaguely.
“You told them you had the chat group?” Muscat cut him off: “I’m not going to discuss what I told the security service”. Only seconds earlier he had done just that – “I told the security services about myself and Yorgen Fenech”.
More stonewalling, denials and lies followed. “Schembri says he always followed your instructions?”. “That’s not quite what he said”, he lied.
“What did you and Schembri discuss when he came to your house before he resigned (and before being arrested) until 3am?”. “He didn’t stay till 3am” was his devious reply.
The interviewer was thrown off track. Instead of insisting the time was irrelevant and pressing him to answer what they had discussed, the interviewer dropped the juicy bone and ran after the stick Muscat had thrown.
With his knack for self-preservation, Muscat dodged every bullet. Shamelessly he lied and lied. “It’s not even clear in my mind, to be honest” when he got to know of Schembri’s 17-Black link.
He didn’t understand the issue of the deeply corrupt Mozura wind farm. He “honestly” didn’t know how Melvin Theuma’s pardon reached Yorgen Fenech. He doesn’t know who Egrant belongs to.
His disgraced chosen ones Adrian Hillman, Keith Schembri, Brian Tonna, Joseph Cuschieri, were only discredited because of “the contents of a mobile phone” according to him. And so Muscat “won’t judge them on a text message”.
He didn’t smell a whiff of corruption on 17-Black and the hospitals deal. When he questioned them, “I was always given an explanation”. Only a psychopathic liar or an utter incompetent could say that. And Muscat’s not the latter.
“Did Keith Schembri tell him the truth?” – “Time will tell”
“Did Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi tell the truth?” – “As if I’m going to go there”.
“Did they fool you?” – “I’m not going to play the jury”.
“They were your friends” – Muscat went off on a tangent, employing self-pity. “I know what my wife and I went through, people made things up, falsified signatures – and you don’t want to talk about this issue, a massive frame-up, fabrications”.
The interviewer persevered, “I’m asking about Keith Schembri”. Muscat’s defiant response: “Whatever happened, happened”.
Muscat still had work to do – discrediting the inquiry. He fired accusations – the state attorney didn’t take part in the inquiry, the state was kept in the dark, the report may prejudge the criminal case, his two chosen judges were ruled out, it was just a “political exercise”, Joseph Said Pullicino “headed the judiciary when three members were found guilty of corruption and he told Fenech Adami he didn’t know about it”.
He completely lost it. He accused the opposition leader of receiving a leaked copy of the report. “I have no doubt” he insisted. He was so certain because the opposition leader stated two days before publication that the recommendations of the board should be implemented. How did Bernard Grech know there would be recommendations if he hadn’t seen the report, was Muscat’s daft logic.
Now that his precarious situation drew him out of his foxhole, his warped and devious character is exposed for all to see – secretive, evasive, obscure, untruthful. The kindest thing one can say is that the man needs help.