When she was ruling on il-Koħħu’s request for bail, the trial judge of Daphne’s alleged assassins remarked that “it is evident that the criminal network involved (in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder) has not been completely restrained and there are still people involved in commissioning the crime that have not yet been called to give account of their actions”.

This wasn’t a year or two ago, though it sounds like it is. This was three weeks ago.

Since then we had the state’s witness speaking of having “heard of” another brace of mastermind and middleman altogether, and he was speaking of people that have not yet been called to give account of their actions.

Chris Cardona in a media blitz makes a valid forensic point. Melvyn Theuma was not testifying to things he saw for himself. He was testifying to things told to him by Mario Degiorgio, brother of Alfred and George Degiorgio. That much is true. As much as the fact that Chris Cardona denies any wrongdoing. As does Keith Schembri for that matter. He too has been mentioned a number of times but has not yet been called to give account of his actions.

Why is it taking so long?

Consider for example how long it took for Yorgen Fenech to be finally arrested in November 2019 when the police had had him as a principal suspect since April 2018 when Vince Muscat il-Koħħu first spoke to them.

I was trying to explain this gap in developments to a journalist from Germany today who was asking when I expect Yorgen Fenech’s trial to be done with. Trial? What trial?

Now no one wants summary trials or unfair proceedings. But since the Degiorgios were arrested, the Americans arrested, tried and convicted Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad in a complex money laundering trial and at the rate we’re going here, his appeal and definitive sentencing will be done by the time we’ll hear a jury foreman tell us if il-Fulu, iċ-Ċiniż and il-Koħħu are guilty of murder.

This is a failure of our justice system. It is not necessarily down to political intervention, partisan sympathies and deliberate undermining of the course of justice. Though the suspicion these elements aggravate the chronic delays in our system is far from unreasonable.

The point is these delays are jeopardising the chances of an ultimate success when we get to the day that a jury foreman stands in a court of law while Yorgen Fenech waits to hear his fate.

Proceedings for each generation of accused take their own time. Proceedings against the Degiorgios and Muscat started when they were arraigned in mid-December 2017. It is reasonable to expect that a jury will not be trying them before 2020 is out. The Covid-19 shut down may have pushed that day back by some 8 weeks but in the 24 months of compilation of evidence and pre-trial hearings drip-dripping every 3 weeks, the pandemic is merely an annoyance.

Yorgen Fenech’s arraignment came in November 2019, which means his trial could be at least 18 months away, maybe more.

There’s no set date for the arrest of the “people involved in commissioning the crime that have not yet been called to give account of their actions.” Obviously. Who knows if it will ever happen? Who knows if the 30 months that have gone by since Daphne was killed are only half way to these people’s arrest?

We could be facing a situation here where juries sit to try members of this conspiracy to murder, accepting – as the trial judge clearly already does – there are other fish out there the police know about that have not been brought to book.

How will juries perceive this? It’s not unheard of for a trial jury that is persuaded of the guilt of someone accused in front of it to take pity on them for being patsies, for being the fall guys for bigger crooks that have not been charged.

As Keith Schembri and Chris Cardona drop hints about each other’s involvement in the murder conspiracy, as they get us to speak about their impunity in the face of the circumstantial hints that infuriate us for not being checked through, they both continue to feed into the idea that we only have a superficial grasp of the composite monster that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Consider how Chris Cardona this morning said in an interview that as far as he was concerned “anybody who’s interested,” could look at his medical records, “be it Repubblika, be it the Civil Society Network, yourself as a journalist, lawyers of the Caruana Galizia family, the family themselves, the sons of Daphne Caruana Galizia”.

Oh, fuck right off, will you. None of these people have a right or the function to look into Chris Cardona’s medical records. On the other hand, if there is a reasonable suspicion those records could help prove a crime it is the duty of the police to look into them. I can speak for Repubblika when I say that we don’t complain about not being able to see Chris Cardona’s medical records. We complain that the responsible authorities do not seem to have the willingness and the ability to investigate this murder properly.

In his interviews Chris Cardona keeps ‘proving’ the evidence we’ve heard of that would damn him does not exist by saying “the police have not spoken to me about it.” But that’s just it, isn’t it?

Before he was arrested in a Europol investigation thrust on the kicking and screaming local police, no one spoke to Melvyn Theuma between the day he delivered a brown envelope with instructions to have Daphne killed (in June 2017) and his arrest in November 2019. The police never spoke to him. Did that mean they didn’t have the evidence that he was involved in the murder? They didn’t have all of it, but they sure had more than enough to arrest him.

Before he was arrested as he tried to make a run for it from the harbour hewn out by his father, no one spoke to Yorgen Fenech between the day he told Melvyn Theuma to fetch George iċ-Ċiniż for him during the Egrant-Michelle Muscat debacle (in April 2017) and his arrest in November 2019. The police never spoke to him. Did that mean they didn’t have the evidence that he was involved in the murder? They didn’t have all of it, but they sure had more than enough to arrest him.

At this rate then, jurors – next year and the year after that – will try people charged with murder while unidentified people the police never spoke to – believed to have been possible accomplices, even masterminds whether that is true or not – are allowed to roam free.

There comes a point where so many people are thought guilty of the same crime, it becomes impossible to convict anyone for it.

That’s how Meinrad Calleja and Ian Farrugia walked away from consequence after the failed assassination of Richard Cachia Caruana. Not to mention the state’s witness in that case, Joseph Fenech.

Someone smart is playing us. As Chris Cardona said about himself, these people may no longer have a political life to save. But being free of that burden and of any need to protect a reputation too filthy to recover, they may very well be liberated now to let us fume at their impunity and fuel narratives that would let them off the hook even if they’re tried by a jury.

What do we do? Do we shut up because we could be unwittingly helping Chris Cardona, Keith Schembri, maybe even Yorgen Fenech and George and Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat get away with it? Do we blame ourselves?

Or do we challenge the real problem here? Why is it taking so long?