What Joseph Muscat had in court was not a heroes’ welcome

Inside the court, Muscat was isolated - even his partners in crime did not acknowledge him

 

Aqra bil-Malti.

“Absolutely not guilty,” disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat told the magistrate when making his plea.

‘Not guilty’ was not enough for him; he was still playing to the audience as he did outside the court.

He arrived late for the hearing, milking the support of a crowd of around 2,000 people, mostly elderly, who gathered to support him following Manuel Cuschieri’s call.

In fact, every time someone walked into the court, they kept shouting “Joseph,” even when it was Keith Schembri walking in.

Yet, inside the court, Muscat was isolated. Journalists and relatives of those accused were left waiting for more than half an hour after Muscat eventually turned up. Nobody walked up to him to talk or shake his hand, except Keith Schembri, eventually.

This was after Muscat failed to acknowledge Schembri on his way into court and turned to disgraced former minister Konrad Mizzi instead.

Despite all the people Muscat had around him in court – in a room where more than a dozen people and their armies of lawyers were there for their defence of similar charges related to bribery, fraud, criminal association and money laundering – Muscat was alone.

He was only accompanied by his wife, Michelle Muscat, and Jason Micallef. Michelle Muscat abandoned her fashion magazines for the day and brought in a book she failed to seem engrossed in, as it may not be something she often does.

Every step by Joseph and Michelle Muscat was an act. It was about handling perceptions rather than respecting the severity of the charges being faced—the theft of millions of euro from the Maltese public.

The situation in the courtroom reflected the difficulty of the proceedings. Prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office and the police faced an army of criminal lawyers.

Almost every criminal lawyer in the country has been commissioned to defend those accused – and this is just the first batch of those listed in the charges.

Steve Tonna Lowell, Charles Mercieca, Mark Vassallo, Franco Debono, and Edward Gatt were there. Lawyers associated with both political sides gathered en masse to defend those in the highest echelons of power and their enablers.

Most defendants facing charges related to the corrupt hospitals’ deal had two or three lawyers.

The defendants could not even be seen from the gallery because every criminal lawyer and their sidekicks there to defend the accused occupied the room. It was clear the prosecution would not have an easy battle.

The crowd outside shrank even before Joseph Muscat arrived. In the background was the protest memorial to assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was the first to highlight the scandal of the hospitals’ deal.

The Labour Party’s hardcore stood in the sun drinking beer and discussing how they would defend Labour till death, even as they swung around in the heat.

“You have no chance of ever getting into government,” they screamed at journalists, feeding on what the Party in government has been saying about journalists being part of ‘the establishment’.

Everyone inside the courtroom almost fell asleep as the prosecutor spent almost two hours reading out the lengthy list of charges—except Michelle Muscat, who kept up the image that she was trying to read a book embraced by her “serenity”.

Meanwhile, journalists had to go to court with police protection. There was a massive burden on the police force to control the crowd and tensions.

They turned up to support the disgraced former prime minister, Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri, and 20 other individuals and companies who face accusations of bribery, trading in influence, money laundering, and various other crimes.

The prosecution demanded the freezing of assets, €30 million in most cases, and asked for an interdiction of those accused if found guilty.

                           

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3 Comments
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Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
26 days ago

The biggest problem of this country is lack of education which leaves those worst hit with no ability to choose between right and wrong, let alone engaging in critical thinking. And the numbers representing this segment is not low but rather quite significant which is also impacting the well being of our society. Just take a look at those who were present outside courts today and you will immediately understand my genuine concerns. NO HOPE!

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
26 days ago

The economy is doing good. A lot of lawyers are in demand.

Last edited 26 days ago by saviour mamo
Noel Ciantar
Noel Ciantar
26 days ago

Joseph Mvscat received a hysterical welcome by a brainwashed mob of his cult, of which he is the Spiritual Leader. The crowds of Iranians celebrating their Ayatollahs come to mind.

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