Locus standi

Locus standi

Joseph Muscat’s lawyers said in court today Simon Busuttil has no interest in whether money-laundering and corruption suspects exposed by the Panama papers should be investigated by the police.

I confess that is an inaccurate statement. Strictly speaking they said Simon Busuttil has no place asking the constitutional court to force the recusal of a Labour MEP’s spouse from hearing Joseph Muscat’s appeal from a decision of a lower court, requested by Simon Busuttil as a private citizen, that the police should investigate what the Panama Papers revealed.

I declare the simplification because it is not intended to mislead. It is intended to reveal the simple fact that Joseph Muscat is trying to obfuscate.

When you explain to journalists from outside Malta trying to cover this story, that the Prime Minister of Malta is resisting in court the conduct of an investigation that would, if he is saying the truth, exonerate him once and for all, they cannot believe they are covering news from a democracy.

What is hardest to understand is that in this court battle there is no Leader of the Opposition — even a former one — or a Prime Minister.

We have two Maltese citizens arguing in court whether the suspicion one has that the other broke the law should be investigated by the police. Try to see this down to its bare bones. Your neighbour has a dog you think is wild and dangerous. You report the matter to the police. They do nothing. You report the matter again. They do nothing. You go to court to ask it to order to police to look into the matter and the court agrees. The neighbour appeals and says his dog is none of your business.

That’s what Joseph Muscat is telling Simon Busuttil and through him to all of us. That it’s none of our business whether the police should investigate him on suspicions he committed crimes grounded on publicly available facts.

It IS our business. The fact that Joseph Muscat is saying it isn’t is another nail in the coffin in which he is seeking to bury our democracy.

If you’re not following what’s going on in court in this case, you should be. Try to understand why the world’s press is now paying attention. Try to fit Joseph Muscat’s ‘artful dodging’ with John Sweeney yesterday with what Joseph Muscat’s lawyers said on his behalf in court today: it’s not your business to know whether there is a “shred of proof” which, if it does exist, he said would lead to his immediate resignation.