The Appeals Court has revoked an order of a lower court for an inquiry into the findings of the Panama Papers. That order was made by Magistrate Ian Farrugia in July 2017 on a request filed by Simon Busuttil complaining to the court that the Police had not investigated the revelations of the Panama Papers from 2016. That first court agreed there had been enough face value reasons to start an inquiry.
Judge Giovanni Grixti presiding the Appeals Court today disagreed saying the level of detail in Simon Busuttil’s claims do not satisfy the requirements in the law for an inquiry of this sort to start.
This will be presented to you as a vindication for Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri and the rest of the Panama Gang. They will specifically be referring to one word Judge Giovanni Grixti chose to use in his conclusion – “speculation” – that, like the Egrant inquiry findings will be twisted to mean there is no reason to investigate crimes of corruption and money laundering committed by people in power.
Politically this will be another bombardment by Labour, not unlike the conclusion of the Egrant inquiry.
And not unlike that time it will find the Opposition on its knees. Joseph Muscat will find Adrian Delia keen to try to use this to score points at the expense of Simon Busuttil whom he perceives as his political nemesis.
There will be no one to remind everyone of the facts.
Simon Busuttil is not a criminal investigator and never pretended to be. That job belongs to the police and they have failed to even look at all the evidence that should have started a police investigation over two years ago now.
Simon Busuttil used the only recourse available to him and to any other citizen like you and me who is disturbed by the failure of the police to investigate something, file a complaint in court to ask for an inquiry to be started on the back of facts known to him like they are known to everyone.
We all saw what was in the Panama Papers. That’s not police work. It didn’t take any special investigative powers to see what was published worldwide.
The police work would have been to determine the meaning of that evidence and investigate the evidence in order to be able to prosecute the criminals involved. That has never happened.
The Appeals Court has today effectively raised the bar for any citizen to ask a court to order an inquiry to a point where they would effectively have to prove themselves that the crime has occurred. That is absurd and if this interpretation is correct, this legal vehicle is practically useless.
It is clearly not the interpretation of the lower court the decision of which today’s decision overrides. But it is also not the interpretation that Magistrate Aaron Bugeja had when he referred two other complaints by Simon Busuttil to two other Magistrates agreeing that even less than face value evidence was needed to justify starting an inquiry. There are two ongoing inquiries started on that basis.
This new bar that requires citizens to become investigators without of course any of the powers of the boys in blue if any of their complaints in court are to be heard make this inquiry application process completely useless in making up for the unwillingness of the police to investigate evidence of crime that is sent its way.
In the din that you will be getting over the next several days it will be easy to forget one important thing. Joseph Muscat and the Panama Gang have not been investigated – let alone prosecuted – for the crimes the evidence suggests. They have therefore most definitely not been aquitted of the accusation they have committed those crimes.
They’ll tell you this absolves them. It does nothing of the sort. What happened today merely confirms what we’ve known for a long time. This country is governed by corrupt people who are above justice and will continue to get away with it for as long as the police and the prosecutor continue to refuse to do their job.