Sent in by someone known to me:

As expected, Joseph Muscat has failed to call an independent comprehensive  inquiry on his government’s role in Daphne’s assassination within the three month deadline. That is the stark truth. Since the deadline has not been met, it is now up to the Council of Europe to match their words with deeds and to take over control of the investigation. Failing that, I see no hope of justice ever being served.

When it comes to the prime minister’s announcement, the devil’s in the detail.

The government reluctantly accepted that they would call the inquiry immediately after the Council of Europe resolution, yet it took them three months to do so. They covered up for the engineered delay by conjuring up some inane point about not prejudicing the criminal investigation (whatever that is meant to be) to such an extent that they included that as a point of reference. This is ominous. In the same paragraph, they undermined that point by including a judge who was involved in the criminal investigation. This punches a massive black hole into both the inquiry and the criminal investigation. The government has an aptitude for respecting the letter of law, while disregarding the spirit of that law. Here, they have deliberately created a loop hole and we all know how adept Muscat and his cronies are at cynically manipulating those loopholes to protect their interests. They have introduced a huge elephant into the arena around which the investigators will have to skirt. We’d have another fake inquiry of which the Egrant inquiry is a prime example. In other words, an investigation intended to protect the suspects. Citing this condition, you’d have investigators failing to probe certain key aspects of the case. Likewise, you’d have witnesses including the police, government ministers and senior government officials refusing to cooperate. We’ve been through all these legal gymnastics in practically ever sham meaningless inquiry the government has launched and controlled.

The government seems to be pleasantly surprised that no one has yet contested the terms of reference. Taking the government’s terms of conditions literally through the government’s perspective, the inquiry is a non-inquiry. It is null and void as the mere presence of the appointed chairman in the board ensures that the inquiry and the criminal investigation cancel each other out. Through the application of the same argument that they formulated in their imagination, they have ensured the ineffectiveness of the investigation.

The outward willingness of the PM to debate with the family is just bluster that will not lead anywhere. The ill will and contempt for the victim’s family by the PM is manifestly evident. Decency and common sense dictate that in such a delicate case, the nature of the inquiry should have been discussed with the family and their legal aids in private, before insensitively announcing it in a staged propaganda initiative as a fait accompli. The family will now have a mountain to climb so as to undo Muscat’s terms. This will undoubtedly lead to a never ending cycle of legal delays that may drag on for many years yet.

Muscat would have timed the announcement to the very last day of the deadline so as to ensure the longest possible delay and to avoid having the Council of Europe taking control of the inquiry. However, it was announced just a week before the deadline so as to avoid an embarrassing grilling of the new Maltese commissioner-designate in the European parliament. Also, just before he was away for a week. That way the terms of the inquiry would have ”set” into the public mind. They would then be more difficult to revoke by dialogue or diplomacy. So much for their so-called “engagement” with the Council of Europe, when by the board appointments, they introduced into practice the very factor they claimed they wanted to avoid. Muscat’s bluff has been called out as has his contempt and disrespect for the Council of Europe.

In truth, in such a small polarized society like Malta’s it will be almost impossible to find someone with or without a Labour government bias. It goes without saying that investigators with any sort of ties to the Labour government have to automatically be excluded. I would have thought it would be acceptable to have an investigator with links to the opposition or with anti- government bias. After all, the board has to function almost like a prosecutor, probing the government with uncomfortable questions. Not surprisingly, the government will never accept that. You would expect that they would welcome such an appointment if the government truly had nothing to hide in this tragic affair. It would actually be in the government’s interest to decisively clear itself. Two retired judges who served in the European Court of Human Rights with experience in such cases come to mind. However, with such an impasse on the composition of the board (not to mention the terms of reference through which the government interferes in what and what cannot be investigated), the onus rests with the Council of Europe to step in and take over. Otherwise justice will never be served.

Throughout the Labour government’s tenure, Joseph Muscat & Co have constantly played cat and mouse games to cover their many misdeeds. Their behaviour has been deplorable. And they will continue to do so, as long as the Council of Europe and the EU remain so passive. The Nationalist opposition folded some time ago.