Last Saturday, 30 November, some remembered the 33rd anniversary of the Tal-Barrani incidents. The PN Opposition of the time called a meeting in Żejtun but the Labour government banned a PN gathering in a place it considered its own. The PN defied them and thugs used violence to block them access to Żejtun as the government-controlled police stood idly by.
A few days later, on 5 December 1986, random bullets shot by one of the habitual Labour carcades hit Raymond Caruana a young lad in his 20s having a drink inside the PN club in Gudja. It was Sunday routine for bullies and thugs to drive from one PN club to the next shooting live bullets at the doors and setting them alight. The government dealt with the fatality by having the police plant a weapon in an innocent man’s farm and pinning the murder on him. Pietru Pawl Busuttil survived an attempt on his life while in police custody and the police’s case against him was thrown out. Raymond Caruana’s family never had justice.
Rewind to the 28 December of 42 years ago when our Republic was still brand new. Karin Grech, a 15-year-old girl, was killed as her brother Kevin, 5 years younger, watched her open a package addressed to her father a senior doctor employed with the government during a drawn-out strike. She died within half an hour of severe burns. Her family has never had justice.
Forward to the 18th December. We mark 25 years since Richard Cachia Caruana survived an attempt on his life. He was stabbed by assassins hired to kill him by drug lord and Labour darling Meinrad Calleja. Richard Cachia Caruana was the prime minister’s personal assistant in 1994. That designation has since been aggrandised to ‘chief of staff’. Calleja blamed him for his father’s forced resignation from head of the armed forces after Calleja’s sister was caught transporting a drugs shipment. The Labour Party would run a campaign to discredit witnesses in the murder trial helping the perpetrators’ case from outside the courtroom.
These anniversaries follow the marking of the burning of The Times building in Valletta and the sacking of Eddie Fenech Adami’s Birkirkara house on 15 October 1979.
On the 13th December we mark 45 years since Malta became a Republic.
Why is all this worth remembering?
A prime minister’s chief of staff is involved in an assassination again but not as its victim but its suspected perpetrator. There has been a government attempt to frame someone else for the murder, not a quiet farmer from Ħal Safi but another government minister whose criminal connections make him a likely candidate for a murder frame up.
Although we know and have understood the truth about the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia we see a government determined to bury evidence that could give her family justice.
No random bullets have been shot at dissenters yet but thugs have entered the scene again illegally arresting journalists when their questions became inconvenient for ministers’ ears.
Instead of burning a building belonging to a newspaper, they blew a bomb under the car seat of a journalist who was a news powerhouse on her own.
The forty-five years of the first republic have been replete with dark days. But maybe they have never been quite as dark as today’s.