Within 24 hours of those agonising scenes inside and outside parliament, the man responsible for all the torment was steering his 50-foot luxury yacht away from these shores.
He must have dashed straight from that pitiful interview with MaltaToday to the Vittoriosa marina. After swapping his sackcloth for his designer t-shirt and a cool pair of shades, Prime Minister Robert Abela was filmed at the helm of his ostentatious yacht fleeing the maelstrom he’d created.
One minute he was expressing regret for his offensive insensitivity for speeding away from the grieving parents of Jean Paul Sofia to get to his Girgenti Palace party. The next, he was doubling down on his arrogant indifference to the nation’s rage and sailing off in luxury.
If anybody doubted that Abela’s tears with MaltaToday’s Kurt Sansone were crocodile tears, his swift escape just hours later must have put those doubts to rest. If anybody suspected Abela’s regret at his own heartlessness the previous night was fake, those suspicions were confirmed.
Abela’s tactless attendance at his Girgenti party straight after those heartbreaking scenes in Valletta fired up the nation. Clips of Abela’s guests clapping away to the happy music of the national orchestra went down like a lead balloon. ‘Get Me to the Church on Time’, they played, to general hilarity all around.
Abela was transformed. From the stony-faced aloofness he displayed as he studiously avoided Jean Paul Sofia’s parents waiting for him outside parliament, Abela became the genial host of the Girgenti bash.
Gone was the scowl. The breezy smile was back. Abela hadn’t a care in the world – music, clapping, drinks, hugs and photos.
How different Abela’s world is from the cruel reality of Jean Paul Sofia’s parents.
They didn’t have a son to hug, to have a drink or a chat with. As they sat distraught and mulling over Abela’s callous betrayal of their son’s memory, he was enjoying himself at the taxpayer’s expense.
The whole country was appalled when photos surfaced of the lunch organised at Girgenti Palace, one of the Prime Minister of Malta’s official residences, for Love Island contestants.
The nation was shocked to see photos of the Prime Minister’s 11-year-old daughter and wife posing with those contestants.
But instead of backing off and treading more carefully, Robert Abela invited those same contestants to a second Girgenti bash. And more photos of his daughter with Love Island contestants surfaced.
By the morning the nation’s rage was palpable. Even Labour darling Simone Cini expressed what every mother felt at Abela’s disgraceful handling of Sofia’s death. Even Labour stalwart Evarist Bartolo and Labour Gzira Mayor Conrad Borg Manche’ voiced their disgust.
Many more genuine Labour supporters felt aggrieved that the memory of one of their young supporters could be treated so insolently by their leader.
It was bad enough to attempt a cover-up by having the proposal for a public inquiry rejected in a parliamentary vote, but to proceed to host a lavish party at Girgenti straight after that was revolting.
Even the detached Robert Abela must have sensed the fury building around him. So he snatched the short time he had left to try and dampen the flames. He called on Saviour Balzan’s MaltaToday to help him out.
Savior Balzan owed him for all of Abela’s desperate court cases to avoid releasing information to The Shift about the millions of euros Balzan was paid. So Abela embarked on a halfhearted effort to reclaim the nation’s sympathy. In his catastrophic interview, Abela just made things worse.
He continued to reject a public inquiry. He stated that if the magisterial inquiry does not look into how a human trafficker and a man who got his Albanian slaves to beat up his former father-in-law were given public land, this should be investigated later.
And guess who Robert Abela thinks should investigate it? INDIS Malta, the very government entity that suspiciously awarded that land to the shady businessmen.
And guess who runs INDIS Malta? Two of Silvio Schembri’s chief canvassers and close aides.
Jean Pierre Attard, a former Labour Party Zurrieq local councillor and a notary with ownership in various property speculation companies, was promoted to the agency’s executive chair without a public call. Schembri also made him INDIS Malta CEO, besides being chairman.
Attard is a shareholder in Lux Developments Ltd, SL Property Developments and Yolo Properties Ltd, with other property developers. His wife, Stephanie, is also a shareholder in three other property development companies – 12 Properties Ltd, Building Heights Ltd and Solitaire Property Ltd. Whose side would he take?
Francois Piccione, Silvio Schembri’s 31-year-old childhood friend and canvasser, was made INDIS Malta Deputy Chief Executive with an annual salary of over €101,000. These are the people at the helm of INDIS who Robert Abela wants to investigate the entity they run.
But Abela stooped even lower. When challenged about the mishandling of Miriam Pace’s death, Abela said “the family was handsomely compensated”.
Abela belongs to the dark ages of feudalism. His reaction was horrific. Why are they whining, they’ve been “handsomely compensated”?
Or maybe he was sending a message to Jean Paul Sofia’s family: If you behave and stop making a fuss, you too will be “handsomely compensated”.
And, with that, he sprinted off to his yacht. Robert Abela enjoys the lavish decor of his luxury yacht while local councils collect funds for stricken families left homeless as a result of the demolition of their properties by reckless developers.
Years after another building collapsed in Gwardamanġa, the affected families have been left in the dark about police investigations. They remain in temporary accommodation provided by the developer. Watching the prime minister sail away in pure luxury must sting. But does he care?
Abela knew that a vigil for Jean Paul Sofia would be held on Monday evening. But his priority is to enjoy himself.
Labour must lance the boil that is Robert Abela before it poisons the whole body. Otherwise, the nation will have to amputate that limb to spare the nation’s life.