It is not disloyal to say that the crime of killing Daphne Caruana Galizia, the crimes that murder tried to cover up, and the crimes committed to cover that murder up, are beyond the capability of our institutions to address properly.
I have been dragged to court for an article I wrote some time ago fitting Daphne’s murder into Italian anti-mafia laws. We have nothing like that because to some extent perhaps we never needed it before now.
We will continue to go around in circles unless as a country we come to terms with our limitations and ask for some help. It is no treason to admit we need a helping hand. If an earthquake had struck us we should not be too proud to accept emergency help from neighbouring countries. We have been struck by a man-made earthquake and it is clear that the structures we have for everyday use are not holding up.
I’m not suggesting outside help would necessarily be self-less and easy to come by. Consider the disgraceful interview the outgoing American replacement ambassador gave a few days ago. Mark Schapiro wanted to diffuse the political impact of his embassy’s statement from last October when they told Malta’s government they were “not too late” to ask for American help to get Daphne’s killer behind bars.
The American embassy will want its relationship with the post-Joseph Muscat regime to work for them. Their motivation is not entirely altruistic. But whatever the motives of other countries may sometimes be, their help may be just what we need. If I look at Mark Schapiro’s Rorschach test and decipher the inkblots on his embassy’s statement from last October I see the fact that their intervention was one of the catalysts that six weeks later saw Yorgen Fenech under arrest and Joseph Muscat resigning.
It is not disloyal to say that we are not going to get to the bottom of this murder alone.
I was sitting in a crowded courtroom yesterday to be reminded how uncomfortably crowded this country can be. When I got there one of the persons to arrive was Lawrence Cutajar. He took a look at me over the rims of his glasses and dove into his phone. I caught myself thinking back at things I wrote about him on this blog until the buff prison guards in blue berets came to the scene to inspect the courtroom. They were led by – who else? – Alexander Dalli whom this website unilaterally ennobled with the title of Count of Ras Ħanżir mostly because of his shenanigans in the prison he runs.
As we sat in the court-room to wait a bearded man in his thirties proffered his sweaty hand to me. ‘Għandi pjaċir,’ he lied. It’s something one says when they’re being introduced to someone. This clown wasn’t being introduced by anyone and he wasn’t introducing himself. “Min int?” I ask him. “Ezekiel Psaila,” said Lawrence Cutajar’s lawyer recently described in this website as the brother of the lawyer of another key witness in the case against Yorgen Fenech: Keith Schembri.
That’s nothing compared to the oddness of being 3 metres away from Yorgen Fenech constantly smirking, shaking his head, guffawing and whispering into the ears of his lawyers like a fidgety child in church. He was surrounded by relatives and friends. The place is small which means I was surrounded by his family and friends. More to the point Daphne’s family was surrounded by Yorgen Fenech’s family and friends.
Speaking of Yorgen Fenech’s lawyers, there was the spectacle of Charles Mercieca, code switching, smirking, perorating like an inquisitor at a heresy trial and seeking out the eyes of the people he betrayed at his former office and boyishly grinning at anyone looking, oozing supreme self-confidence like a cracked drain pipe. I thought back at what I wrote about him here as well.
In a country that properly deals with organised crime, proceedings would be held in a specialised and secure courtroom. Victims and their relatives would be kept safe and away from the accused’s associates and accomplices. Prosecutors would be armed with specialised laws applicable to anti-mafia trials that would allow them to give safety and anonymity to police officers and witnesses. There would be proper facilities for the press and the public to ensure the process is transparent and justice is seen to be done. Presiding members of the judiciary would be especially protected and allowed to focus all their energies on these specific crimes.
Here, the biggest anti-mafia process in our history, where a journalist has been killed, is dealt using the same procedure as when some twisted perv in a mackintosh is charged for flashing on the beach.
The jumbled crowd that squeezed inside Rachel Montebello’s courtroom yesterday worked in the shadow of Melvyn Theuma’s attempted suicide. The official police interpretation of the events in Theuma’s house the night before had been given but no one was reassured. No one is.
It isn’t necessarily impossible for someone to inflict on themselves the wounds Melvyn Theuma had though it is objectively unlikely. But that doesn’t matter. The police’s credibility is such that anybody else’s version of events is presumed to be likelier to be true.
As Beppe Fenech Adami argued in parliament yesterday whether Melvyn Theuma hurt himself or someone else hurt him, his handlers have allowed the most important asset in the search for justice to be damaged, very nearly destroyed.
Pile that on top of the infinite list of investigations around this case or emerging from it on which no progress has been registered. Add the political motivations of so many in government, in business, even in the opposition to prevent any material progress from being secured. Add the complexities of the clan of the boys in blue and the enormous pressure on the good cops not to let bad cops fall.
Magistrates, lawyers, policemen, even journalists and court experts operate in the full knowledge that they’re dealing with the crimes of people that can order someone’s murder, perhaps even someone’s suicide. They can make evidence disappear, careers end, consequences and friends and family to be slapped with impunity. And yet the state does not step up to help and protect them. Because the state is run by, or in the service of, the same mafia that they are trying, vainly, to restrain.
These officials of justice will have no ego to bruise if proper help is brought in from abroad. Those who truly want the truth to emerge and justice to be served do not mind if it is done with the help of outsiders and they especially will not mind if they are kept safe while doing their job.
It is those who would rather the truth never emerged who reject the notion of an international investigative team and proper anti-mafia legislation to properly process these crimes.
They may yet get their way.