Judge Antonio Mizzi decided today that Simon Busuttil’s arguments for him, the judge, to recuse himself from hearing the prime minister’s appeal from a lower court’s decision to order an investigation into the Panama scandal is heard in an open court. It was the right decision. The contrary would have been a travesty. It was such a no brainer that we must resist the temptation of applauding the bleeding obvious and to be grateful merely for what is ours.
It is also a very minor win in the proper scheme of things.
We must not be distracted by the judiciary doing the right thing from the executive behaving appallingly.
Joseph Muscat is still insisting for his appeal to be heard behind closed doors once the judge decides if he should stay or let someone else hear arguments on the merits of the case.
Joseph Muscat still wants justice on him not to be seen to be done. The court today made no decision on whether the merits of the prime minister’s appeal should be heard in open court. That, unbelievably, is still an open question.
Joseph Muscat continues to twist the maxim that justice must be seen to be done by attempting to hide the course of justice, thereby perverting it.
If nothing is ever conclusively proven due to the spectacular somersaults of the prime minister and his team and the collaborative conspiracy of the institutions that work for Joseph Muscat instead of the Constitution of Malta, we must all have foremost on our mind the fact that Joseph Muscat is to this day putting pressure on the courts to overturn an order for him to be investigated and to shut the public out while he argues why the court should do as he bids.
In a court of law this behaviour is not in and of itself evidence of guilt. But the people of Malta cannot ignore this bullying of our institutions, this manipulation of procedure, these delaying tactics of someone who is legally presumed innocent but in the real world without togas has nothing to defend himself with except that presumption.
If he wants the courts to suppress investigations, it should be no surprise he doesn’t want us to hear him say why.
What, one must now wonder, is he going to say? That he is too important to be investigated? That the laws of the land do not apply to him because he won a majority in the elections? That Simon Busuttil’s box files were empty? That he does not have confidence in the police to investigate fairly and diligently? That he does not trust the Attorney General not to prosecute him without fear or favour? That he does not trust the final decision of the Maltese courts?
What could a head of the executive branch of a democracy argue to justify the suppression of investigations into crimes he or she is alleged to have committed?
So many institutions have complied with Joseph Muscat’s wishes or cowered from his threats, that even this relatively minor and completely obvious and inescapable decision is a welcome development. ‘Development’ is an overstatement. It is a stumble on the wall of rubber built against the rule of law in the country.
There will have been a reason for Joseph Muscat to be displeased about the goings on in court today. Adrian Delia showed up alongside his predecessor Simon Busuttil in court. It was a significant signal and the right signal. May it be the first of many. For Adrian Delia too this is but the beginning.