A few hours after Daphne Caruana Galizia died, her husband, her sister and her eldest son were dragged to court along with suspects of the murder and made to wait for hours in a dark and cold court lobby preventing them from even the basic humanity of finding comfort in each other and the rest of the family in their darkest hour.
They were dragged there because the Magistrate whose turn it was to conduct inquiries thought that was the right way to treat them.
I called that the wall of rubber. I was thinking of an exquisitely titled Italian film from the early nineties called Il Muro di Gomma (perhaps more properly translated as The Invisible Wall). It was about the unbearable frustration of the families of the victims of the Ustica plane crash of 1980, a mystery never fully explained.
I spoke recently to someone who worked in the Italian security services at the time. Everybody in the know knew what caused Ustica. But no remotely satisfactory answer could be given to the relatives of the deceased. Instead they were played by the bureaucracy against which they bounced like straight-jacketed inmates in an asylum.
That evening of the 16th October was just the beginning of the unending and maddening frustration for the Caruana Galizias.
To be fair this sort of institutional indifference and insensitivity to the relatives of victims of crime is not reserved for them. This morning I posted a report in the German press about a father whose son died here under mysterious circumstances and no one could explain why the boy’s body was missing its brain and internal organs.
It is a story of cold indifference, of bureaucratic machinations, of insensitive, almost sadistic hostility to people who only seek answers to the natural questions grieving families should be expected to ask: about what is known about what happened to the loved ones they lost and what is being done about finding more out.
That German boy’s father has access to his local paper who kept his story going. He hopes he can get the German government to get the Maltese government to move.
And the Caruana Galizias are, thankfully, capable, intelligent and strong men who will let no haughty prime minister — let alone a faceless bureaucracy — ride roughshod over them.
The document their legal advisers prepared and which they published today is their response to the Maltese government. Every letter the government ignored; every call they missed; every cold shoulder they turned is being documented and a strong case is being put together showing flagrant breaches of fundamental human rights.
There is little in the document as a matter of fact that we did not know. But put together like that, those individual events are an overwhelming reminder of how long and how tragic the last 7 weeks have been for us and how much longer and harder they must have been for Daphne’s grieving husband and sons.
This document is not an academic exercise, though the Attorney General will privately chuckle about it over Christmas drinks in Castille. This document is not a political exercise, though those trolls out there will say the Caruana Galizias should shut up already. Like me, you have read posts of people who wrote the Caruana Galizias wanted their mother dead so they could cause embarrassment to the government. This is the extent of the frantic hysteria these foot-soldiers of the government have got to.
This document is an indictment of the way the country manages its own affairs and treats human beings like red notes in dog eared, dusty cardboard files.
And behaving that way breaches the fundamental rights of those human beings.
Sometimes, very rarely, you come across people like Peter, Matthew, Andrew and Paul Caruana Galizia who will just not take it lying down.