“Iddisprati” and variations on the theme like “indannati”, “imdejjqin”, “iffissati” (usually preceded by that proverbial Maltese number that amounts to irrelevance “erba’ iddisprati, erba’ indannati,” and so on) were not only attributed to justice campaigners by Yorgen Fenech. We get that all the time. We never get used to it and to how unfair it is.
There is no satisfaction in hearing Yorgen Fenech on tape reassure himself that “not even (PN leader Adrian) Delia cares about Daphne being killed”.
But it’s a remarkable thing to say or even think for a person involved in a murder.
It solidly testifies to the fact that it would not have been really possible to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia had she not been so isolated.
I remember Daphne commenting when then prime minister Lawrence Gonzi was challenged by the Labour Party “to condemn Daphne Caruana Galizia” over something controversial she had written. Typically, it would be something that would cause the PN or the PN government embarrassment if they don’t distance themselves from it. It would be something the PN or the PN government would not say.
But Lawrence Gonzi understood that the optics of a government “condemning” a critical journalist was worse than allowing Labour to pin on the PN something unpleasant that Daphne Caruana Galizia wrote.
Because as she explained on many occasions, politicians are free to “condemn” each other, “attack” each other, speak of each other as opponents or rivals. It is practically their obligation to do that. Political discourse needs disagreement to make progress, to crystalise alternative paths, to provide options that are refined by continuous challenge from across the aisle.
But between a journalist and the political class the traffic is not two-way, or should not be in a democracy. Politicians have the duty to protect journalists, especially journalists who challenge them.
The Labour Party worked to isolate Daphne Caruana Galizia for decades. But when things got really extreme such as when Chris Cardona perpetrated a financial assassination on Daphne Caruana Galizia for the crime of catching him with his pants down, the Nationalist Party mobilised support for her. They ensured she was not left alone and they took up her stories and made them their causes.
In concern about the stories there is the provocation of consequence. And that is what makes journalists and whistle-blowers safe: showing that their work matters and is vital for a democracy as much as birds that feast on ticks on the backs of a hippopotamus.
Adrian Delia finished the Labour Party’s job of isolating Daphne, whittling down the community that respected her work to the few who would be happy to disassociate themselves from either and both main political parties. The erba’ iddisprati.
This remains the first reason why Adrian Delia can never lead the PN to an electoral victory. No matter what he says now, in order to ensure his own political safety, he made Yorgen Fenech comfortable with having killed Daphne Caruana Galizia. Some of us can never forget that.
Remember the context of that taped voice of Yorgen Fenech. It’s well after the murder has occurred. But Yorgen Fenech is reassuring himself that Adrian Delia’s ambivalence for the cause of justice for Daphne (graduated reluctantly from his outright hostility to her existence) can help him continue to enjoy impunity for the murder he committed.
Yorgen Fenech did not elaborate on that taped conversation. But he could have said that the way PN media ignored campaigners for justice for Daphne for months on end helped choke the pressure that was being applied on the authorities to take action. He could have said how helpful to his cause the PN media was when they sought to discredit Occupy Justice with fake news stories that they were plotting with Joseph Muscat to introduce abortion. Or when NET twisted my reporting to call me a liar and did not correct their own lies until a court ordered them to.
It’s interesting that we read today in this Times of Malta story that Yorgen Fenech made a bid to buy The Malta Independent around 2015. That’s when Pierre Portelli was one of its board director and effectively its editor. He would then move on to the Partit Nazzjonalista and preside over a sustained smear campaign aiming to discredit campaigners demanding justice for Daphne.
Too many coincidences.
Politicians may have not pushed the button that detonated the bomb that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia. But they did create the atmosphere that allowed her killers to do their thing fully expecting to get away with it.
Adrian Delia thought his candidature and his eventual election to the leadership of the PN gave him a license to say and do as he pleases and that consequences should not matter. Those consequences include the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Can Adrian Delia assure us all that his leadership campaign was not funded in part by Yorgen Fenech? Can he assure us that Yorgen Fenech has not funded the PN since his election as party leader?
Perhaps if people heard that tape of Yorgen Fenech comforting himself that Adrian Delia not caring about the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia would keep law and justice at bay might feel more sympathetic with Daphne’s sister when last October she trashed a wreath of flowers brought there by a mock mortified Adrian Delia. He may have lost votes and support. She lost her sister.
Politicians refuse to realise they have a responsibility when they speak and that responsibility includes protecting the lives of their critics.
Consider how the hard-core trolls that work for Adrian Delia have been on a campaign of discrediting PN MP Jason Azzopardi. The viciousness of the insults, the mockery and the threats exceed the worst he has had to face from Labour Party supporters. He’s not alone facing this but certainly he is prominent in the scale of what he has to carry.
Jason Azzopardi is proving instrumental in unearthing more of the truth in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s case. But it is convenient for Adrian Delia that Jason Azzopardi is not believed.
The politics of convenience which is converted into trolling and the isolation of critics is once again a symptom of indifference to the cause of justice in the case of the murder of a journalist.
It seems like they will never learn. Even the chilling voice of a murderer that indicts politicians for making his bloody job easier does not nothing to chip these politicians’ inexplicable conviction that they can do no wrong.