The government was surprised by the world’s reaction to Charles Mercieca quitting the attorney general’s office and showing up the next day on Yorgen Fenech’s defence team. They were surprised because they’re stupid. They should know exactly what reaction to expect when yet another mess crops up. But they keep hoping that the world loses interest in Malta and that nobody out there cares.
Our European partners demand justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia. It’s not going to happen if the man of honour who is charged with having her killed apparently manages to infiltrate the prosecutor’s office in such a blatant way. It’s even worse when the infiltration is conducted just as you expect in a mafia state, where using a politically connected bambino with a hereditary grudge would be the normal modus operandi.
The government is in crisis management mode. Again. How do we convince the world we are innocent of yet another blatant case of collusion with crime, you imagined them muttering, while pacing up and down in faux despair.
Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis announced an inquiry into the matter under the Inquiries Act. No terms of reference for the inquiry have been published so there’s enough vagueness there to make people think that a proper investigation on what happened is underway.
This utter bullshit relies on the fair assumption that no one is actually looking at the law.
The Inquiries Act is very specific when it is used by government ministers. They can only order an inquiry to look into a department within their ministry to examine the conduct or management of that department or any matter falling within its functions or responsibilities.
Therefore, this inquiry can examine whether Charles Mercieca met the entrance requirements when he got the job, whether he filled out all the forms properly, whether he stuck to his contract and whether his bosses at the attorney general’s office followed the rules.
It’s a racing certainty that within these parameters, an inquiry such as this can only produce yet another certificate of compliance that the minister can then use to congratulate himself.
Because you see, that’s all it would take for a mafioso to infiltrate the prosecutor’s office in this country: get your mole to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on all the paperwork.
This is not what needs investigating here, or at least not only this. What communications were there between Charles Mercieca and Yorgen Fenech before the former became the latter’s lawyer? Are we really supposed to believe Charles Mercieca started job hunting at 5pm on Tuesday and was hired by Malta’s Napoleon of crime before 9am the next day?
It is those communications that can help determine whether Charles Mercieca betrayed his client – us, the people of Malta – by spying for a criminal we the people have charged with murdering a journalist, a wife and a mother.
It is the answer to this obvious question that determines whether we’re dealing with a case of precocious greed or a case of mafia infiltration in the workings of the state.
An inquiry under the Inquiries Act is not going to unearth the information we need to get to the ugly truth, for the reasons already stated. Instead it will provide the minister with an exercise in self-certification, in this case likely to be even less useful than usual, given that the attorney general is likely to argue he need not answer inconvenient questions as this is a prosecutorial matter and in that role his department actually is not answerable to the justice minister at all.
Here’s Edward Zammit Lewis singing from the smudged and smeared hymn sheet Owen Bonnici left behind in the bottom right drawer of the justice minister’s desk. As of tomorrow: ‘The matter is the subject of an inquiry and we therefore cannot comment for now.’ And then, when the inquiry reports, and before the ink is even dry: ‘The inquiry has determined that the attorney general and the government behaved in accordance with the law.’
In the meantime, you’ll be gaslit by the Saviour Balzans of this world. Last Sunday he decreed from on high that the objections to a lawyer who still smells of the vomit and sour wine from his graduation party switching sides literally overnight from the prosecutor’s office to the legal team of the criminal the prosecutor’s office most needs to secure the conviction of, are grounded only in the fact that Charles Mercieca is a Laburist. He part cited the president of the chamber of advocates, not even hearing the ringing chorus of disapproval from the rank and file of lawyers who respect themselves and their profession.
No, dear Saviour. That’s an old fashioned petitio principii fallacy. Charles Mercieca is a Laburist precisely because he thinks no one should be objecting to a novice lawyer switching briefs overnight from prosecution to defence in the case of the murder of a journalist and government critic. Not the other way round.