A few days ago I was working with an Italian anti-mafia journalist who was in Malta to look into some suspected activities in Malta of criminals from his own country. I saw his report and rather impertinently reminded him that some of the allegations he was reporting were denied by the suspected people even though the evidence against them was compelling. Why was he not reminding they were denying what they were accused of?
Because denial is a matter of course. He reminded me Totò Riina went to his tomb denying he had done anything wrong. There are always many sides to a story and you have to keep your eyes open. But you must not be naive. Objectivity and care to avoid prejudice can only keep you in the right to a point, beyond which, when you remain neutral between right and wrong, you become complicit in the wrong.
Denial is the last tool of the guilty. The moment even a fraction of fault is conceded, the edifice of resistence collapses.
“The biggest lie in Maltese political history” is a piece of hyperbole coined by Joseph Muscat pumped up to the proportion of the gravity of the accusation he is defending himself from. Joseph Muscat is accused by some of being the most corrupt prime minister in Maltese political history.
The scale of that indictment is massive. It is also one that many feel is grounded in facts, some of which are verified, some of which are not yet verified and can only be confirmed by proper and empowered investigation. And sometimes the facts are confirmed by fortuitous accident.
John Dalli has just this week regaled us with the benefit of his poor memory by confirming a detail that may have seemed insiginificant in all that Daphne Caruana Galizia reported about Pilatus Bank. She had said John Dalli had a Pilatus account but had not used it much. The question whether John Dalli did have a Pilatus Bank account became a subject of an inquiry which John Dalli forgot about given that in this respect at least he had little to hide.
Full of bluster this week he indulged into one of his rants against what he graciously describes as “poisoned pens” by saying that his Pilatus Bank account was largely inactive. He did not know it at the time but he was confirming not only what Daphne Caruana Galizia was saying about him but also, and frankly more significantly, the quality of the reach of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sources and information from inside Pilatus Bank.
We have a fact in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s reporting of Pilatus Bank that is now no longer contested or contestable. We have a loud, screaming fact. The supposed biggest lie in political history has been confirmed again as being just a little bit truer.
Then we had another accident that Jacob Borg picked up from the law-suit Pilatus Bank filed against Daphne Caruana Galizia. In accusing her of “misappropriating and publishing Pilatus’s confidential information” Pilatus Bank has just confirmed the information she published was not, as repeatedly claimed, fabricated. On the contrary it was sound and true because you can’t misappropriate and publish something which does not exist.
Pilatus Bank admits in SLAPP lawsuit that slain journalist gained access to its client list. Among Pilatus’ clients were family members of Azerbaijan’s President, and Azerbaijan’s minister for Emergency Situations, whose front man opened up companies in Malta via Nexia BT. pic.twitter.com/ZciicrLsZt
— Jacob Borg (@BorgJake) January 31, 2018
The biggest lie in political history has become truer yet.
If journalistic inquiry only waited for the suspects to let slip what they would rather not admit, it would not go far though with these two incidents just this week it has gone rather a long way.
The story of the New York apartment published in this blog is another layer of credibility piled on this story. Whoever spoke of massive payments sent to “a certain Buttigieg woman owning a Buttardi jewellery in New York” may be accused of perhaps knowing that Buttardi also belonged to Michelle Muscat and that such an accusation may help give credibility to an elaborate lie.
But they could not have known that a few days after the payment was alleged to have been made, an Upper East Side New York apartment bought just a few months before was paid off in full in one go.
This is another fact. Another uncontestable truth that stands immutable under the assault of rhetoric and furious denials from Joseph and Michelle Muscat.
The suggestion that the fact that the apartment was paid off a few days after a payment from Pilatus she denies ever receiving does not prove she is lying about not receiving the payment, is ingenuous. It is on the line of a bullet dodge a la Totò Riina at his many trials.
Here are some of them: ‘she could have won the lottery’, ‘maybe her generous great-aunt had just died and left her everything’, ‘maybe a charity that takes pity on start-up jewellers bought her a pied-a-terre in Manhattan’. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
Why does she not prove she did not pay off her apartment from any other means apart from payments from Pilatus Bank?
Why doesn’t Pilatus Bank open its account holders list to prove Daphne Caruana Galizia’s was the biggest lie in Maltese political history?
Why doesn’t Joseph Muscat simply allow the police to investigate him and his affairs and the affairs of his wife?
Daphne Caruana Galizia’s story is being borne out by facts. More and more facts are coming to light, even ones she had not yet verified to the extent that they are now. Certainly in her lifetime and to her knowledge Pilatus Bank never acknowledged anything she published was true. Quite the opposite.
More facts are established. These are unassailable truths. If there was anything they could disprove about any of this they – Joseph Muscat, Michelle Muscat, Pilatus Bank – all of them would or should be presenting evidence to disprove them.
The argument that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution is an argument that is always true in a court of law. But we’re not there yet. This is the political arena. Out here the argument that the burden of proof lies with the journalists is the argument of the guilty.
They taunt those who accuse them because “they don’t have documents”. Like the stereotype hood under arrest they quip “you ain’t got nothing, Sarge. I want my phonecall”.
They do have the documents though. Why don’t they publish them? Why don’t they prove the provenance of their wealth? Why don’t they let international oversight and investigations into their contacts? Why don’t they let witnesses speak up without fear of retribution?
It’s becoming ever clearer that the biggest lie in political history may very well end up being the one perpetrated on us by Joseph Muscat: the lie that what Daphne Caruana Galizia accused him of is not true.