Silvio Valletta went on a trip to watch football with Yorgen Fenech and that’s when the police Silvio Valletta was deputy chief of, suspected Yorgen Fenech was the mastermind behind Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination.
The Maltese government lost a human rights case filed by Daphne’s family saying Silvio Valletta’s involvement was a breach of their human rights: because the government is obliged under human rights law to investigate a murder without conflicts of interest. The conflict in their complaint was the fact that Silvio Valletta’s wife was a cabinet colleague of potential suspects, people like Keith Schembri, Chris Cardona and Joseph Muscat.
After they lost the case, the government appealed. They lost that too.
Put that 9-month legal battle in context. The government in an official statement viciously attacked the Caruana Galizia family when they first published the legal advice they had from a specialist human rights firm telling them the government had a case to answer for insisting Silvio Valletta heads the investigation of their mother’s murder.
The government argued using post-colonial rhetoric about the Caruana Galizias using a ‘foreign’ firm which by definition is an act of evil.
Our new prime minister Robert Abela, then a legal advisor of Joseph Muscat, publicly attacked the Caruana Galizia family for seeking advice saying they were acting in a way that suggests they were uninterested in justice for their mother and focused rather on harming the country.
It was a vile comment largely ignored at the time because it was one of hundreds posted by Joseph Muscat cronies. Robert Abela has since expressed no regret.
Now Silvio Valletta admits to The Sunday Times of Malta that he was friendly with Yorgen Fenech. Very friendly. So friendly he travelled with him to watch a football match. This travelling to watch football business looks like the preferred vice of the corrupt. And the Fenechs use it as industrial scale flattery.
Silvio Valletta was one of the first scandal-ridden characters in this saga to exit stage left. He “retired” from the force fully expecting not to be bothered any more. He also fully expected to save his wife’s job as a government minister.
That’s just not acceptable. Justyne Caruana’s position as a government minister is utterly untenable. Unless she can publicly say that she did not know her husband was travelling with Yorgen Fenech – and she would not be believed even if she did – she can have no excuse for allowing herself to be so conflicted between the government’s obligation to ensure justice and her husband’s familiarity with a criminal mastermind.
Justyne Caruana remains, and is today more than ever, a physical symbol of the mafia infiltration in our state.
This is not about reversing the ruination of our reputation. It is not about making a break with the past. This is about clearing the way for Silvio Valletta’s behaviour in the case of Daphne Caruana Galizia to be investigated along with his other accomplice formerly in the head office of the police force Lawrence Cutajar.
Arguing that Justyne Caruana has been a good Gozo minister is like arguing that Adolf Hitler built good highways. And arguing that she should not carry the can for something her husband has done is ignoring the fact that a husband’s conflict of interest is by definition necessarily the wife’s as well unless someone is going to argue that a married couple can happily have distinct and contradictory interests; unless someone is prepared to argue it does not matter that she was a government minister at the time her husband the cop cavorted with the robber.
Many thought Robert Abela sent the right signals in his first week. They were easy signals to send. Removing Mizzi, Cardona, Gafà and Cutajar was easy because he was reversing decisions by his predecessor for which he personally could afford to behave as if he did not need to express any regret or assume any responsibility.
Today the honeymoon is over. The decision to re-appoint Justyne Caruana to cabinet was his. If he does not remove her today we will know what he meant when he promised continuity. He knew the chalice was poisoned. It’s time to drink.