Still pleading that they are not crooks – Jacques René Zammit

Adrian Delia was asked whether the Vitals judgment was the greatest ever historic condemnation of a government’s actions. He hesitated before confirming that, if anything, this judgment was historic in and of itself. You’d have to go back considerably in time to find a similar indictment of a governor of the islands for fraud, corruption and misappropriation.

To be exact you’d have to rewind 2092 years when you would witness the trial of Gaius Verres before the extortion court of the Roman Republic.

As Governor of Sicily (including Malta), Verres had bled the region dry through plunder and extortion. A group of rich Sicilians with the legendary Cicero as their lawyer took Verres to court. Eventually, Cicero’s arguments were so strong that Verres opted for voluntary exile. Cicero had planned accusations based on abuse of judicial power, extortion of taxes, robbery of artworks and abuse of political position.

So there you have it, in the dying decades of the Roman Republic Malta was involved in a tale of corrupt politicians being brought to justice.

The Vitals judgment is indeed a landmark in that Judge Depasquale held no punches in describing a scheme that was intended for fraudulent unjust enrichment. It was no petty theft at that for the enrichment involved the common good of the nation. The millions of euros that are at stake concern supposed investment in the health sector. The mismanagement involved – fraudulent, intentional mismanagement – concerns those who are entrusted with the stewardship of the state.

In his opening arguments Cicero addressed the judges directly. He implored them to stand up in a moment of crisis for the republic and to prove that no man, no matter how wealthy, could be above the law. The Vitals judgment comes in a moment of crisis for the Maltese Republic. The piteous state of the rule of law in the republic has been chronicled for the past decade.

Judge Depasquale’s statement is also a landmark in that respect. It shines a beacon of hope on an otherwise desolate landscape where justice had seemed to wearily succumb to the overtaking of the institutional set-up by the corrupt few.

The judgment has provoked a shake-up among the actors of our political firmament. Aside from Vitals and Steward, the actors most directly involved are the Muscat cabinet that chaperoned a deal full of questionable conditions. The Muscat Cabinet is now entangled with the Abela Cabinet in a game of pass the responsibility parcel. As the various elements of both cabinets attempt to spin the danger in each other’s direction we have a governing class that fails in any way to bear responsibility for the fraudulent sell-out.

As Old Labour fights Continuity Labour, the most evident conclusion we can draw is that our class of politicians is unable to bear responsibility for their actions or inaction that have led us into this mess. Meanwhile, the Opposition has been stirred into some form of unity given this unique opportunity of being on the side of the people.

The tune of Bella Ciao bellowed outside parliament as the crowds gathered to protest. The champagne socialists who criticised the Nationalist Party for using a partisan song would have been better off using their energy to criticise the supposed socialist party of thieves rather than engaging in petty crocodile tears about some purported political and cultural misappropriation.

It’s getting ugly. The spin doctors are fast at work as the knives are out with many cornered politicians resorting to end-game tactics. It is not a pretty sight. The Degiorgio prison leave scandal served to distract attention from the Vitals verdict. Even PM Abela engaged in deliberate misinformation to pile more unneeded pressure on the courts.

What do we take from this judgement? Vindication? Justice? Not really no. We should best see it as a first step in a long battle. The large number of contracts dealt with by the Muscat-Mizzi-Schembri triumvirate of corruption needs to be revisited. From power stations to American universities, to other issues of procurement and sale of public land and property. That, and the monument to corrupt nepotism that the government of the day has become.

Five years and four months on, the last words of the woman who started uncovering it all still resonate loudly. “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.”

They are still pleading that they are not crooks. Meanwhile we are only just beginning to find out how right she was.

                           
                           
                               
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Mick
Mick
22 days ago

Good article says it how it is, I think that the way forward now that the door is ajar, is to tackle the inept and useless GA and PC both of whom are traitors to the country and followers of the previous and current despots. We desperately need to get all these Mafioso on trial ASAP before things get drowned in legal jiggery pokery to avoid their trials, for want of a better word a ROADMAP from arrest through trial to imprisonment need to be formed for each and everyone of them

A. Fan
A. Fan
22 days ago
Reply to  Mick

All innocent until found guilty; but if all those supposedly investigating are in the pockets of the guilty, what’s the fix? Well, non-Maltese fixers have been sourced before for other locally unsolvable problems (from airport/airline to leading bank to financial oversight, etc.), so why not PC and AG? Just make sure the crooks cannot pay them more or otherwise corrupt them.

Joseph Farrugia
Joseph Farrugia
22 days ago

Bravo!

Thomas
Thomas
22 days ago

I wasn’t aware that the Old Labour is fighting the Continuity Labour Party because I must have missed such openly disagreements between the two in public statements or even disapproval by the former towards the latter in any way of communication.

The general impression remains, old Mintoffian MLPers are rather ignoring the deeds of the ‘Continuity NEW PL’ for the sake of keeping the PL in government and thus block any change that would effectively curb corruption in Malta.

Somehow, the article gives one the impression that the PL has now reached its ‘bunker mentality situation’ rather prematurely and has to face the imminent downfall of their own regime. Maybe it has just started and the crumbling of this government, brought down by itself, is processing faster than one might think. This remains to be seen, what won’t ever change is the fact that the PLers lack a great deal of self-reflection and self-criticism and therefore, one shouldn’t expect any repentence from them. Neither at the present nor in the future.

If it wasn’t for people like Daphne Caruana Galizia and the civil society movement in Malta, the lethargy of the wider population towards corruption would have catched up with everybody.

Carmelo Borg
22 days ago

Umbghad Abela ma ihosx xejn fil kuxjena tieghu TNIGZU. ARA VERA DAWN IN NIES SARU ROBOTS. TANT SAR KANKRU FIHOM LI XEJN MU XEJN.

Joseph
Joseph
22 days ago

The crooks everywhere you look are still roaming free. Nothing changes!

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
22 days ago

The baby monster of fraud was conceived by Joseph Muscat and his cabinet. Instead of cutting its head Robert Abela and his cabinet continued to feed the baby in order to grow quickly. The monster grew so quickly under Robert Abela that it devoured at least € 300 million. If it was not for Judge Depasquale’s judgement that monster was still with us thanks to Robert Abela because he did nothing.to stop it.

C. Fenech
22 days ago

The usual tactics from the same persons, biased and cruel

Adrian camilleri
Adrian camilleri
17 days ago

Spoiler
like Pilate Joseph Egrant Muscat washed his hands,of his reposabilities.After making a mint behind everybody’s back.Joseph Egrant is panicking.Is HE SEEING JAIL?

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