If Adrian Delia has not done a useful thing in his life – and that, it should be said, is rhetorical – he has today, and in the five years leading up to today’s court decision, done the nation a great service. Even the government must secretly be grateful. But the fact that today everyone seems to agree that the sale of three hospitals to mysterious friends of Joseph Muscat was one of the most corrupt concessions in the history of this country, it is wrong to diminish the courage that Adrian Delia showed when he started this case.
When he decided to bring a lawsuit calling for the hospitals to be taken away from Vitals’ heirs, Steward, he was warned that if he failed to prove his case he could be sued by Steward for the value of the contract. We’re talking about stupid money no one can afford to pay. Not Adrian Delia. Not anyone.
His stubbornness paid off. Whatever you think of Adrian Delia, and you’re probably right to think it, if you’re a citizen of Malta you owe him your thanks today.
Give your thanks to Judge Francesco Depasquale while you’re at it. He saw what all of us have seen over the last 7 years. Neither Vitals nor Steward fulfilled any of the promises Joseph Muscat and Konrad Mizzi made the country when they justified splitting Malta’s national health service and commit the most anti-socialist policy imaginable: delegate the healthcare of citizens to profit-minded business owners.
But it’s different when a judge says it. It’s different when a judge acknowledges Adrian Delia’s right to this lawsuit on the splendidly explicit grounds that “fraud corrupts everything” and fraud is what has happened here. It is different when a judge kicks the government’s shrivelled testicles for having acted on behalf of profiteers “instead of the interest of the people”. It’s different when a judge says that Konrad Mizzi’s extensions and concessions to Steward “cannot be explained”.
It’s different and important.
Because when we said all that, the police and the attorney general justified their inaction because ‘there’s no proof’. And now a court has ruled that the Vitals/Steward swindle was indeed just that – a swindle – and has struck it down.
That’s not enough. It’s a lot. It’s all this court could do. But it’s not the justice this country deserves.
It’s not true that Joseph Muscat’s and Konrad Mizzi’s behaviour “cannot be explained”. It can be explained. They aren’t just “amateurs” as the court describes the conduct of their government in this case. At the very least they abused their power costing the country hundreds of millions in the process. They took sides with blood-sucking profiteers against the sick people of this country. The country has the right to recover those losses. The government has the duty to pursue them.
Then there’s something else. Just as serious. The court today found fraud. Fraud does not happen spontaneously. Fraud is a crime that needs to be perpetrated: by people. Vitals and Steward, the court ruled, “acted in bad faith”. But government ministers, beginning with Joseph Muscat and Konrad Mizzi did not act on that bad faith. Adrian Delia did.
Their failure to act against Vitals and Steward is implicit complicity.
The present government is not free of this. Chris Fearne, knee deep in this shit-swamp, tries to make it sound like he had nothing to do with this mess; that it was Konrad Mizzi who authorised the transfer of the concession from Vitals to Steward and he was merely a spectator. Bullshit. He was Health Minister.
Chris Fearne publicly endorsed the transfer as “the real deal”. If not as criminally responsible as Konrad Mizzi is for giving Steward a probably illegal and invalid €100 million euro early exit commitment to Steward, he is at the very least politically responsible for the decision of the government not to cancel the concession when Vitals ran out of money and to allow them instead to profit from the sale of the concession to Steward.
Also consider the court’s dismissal of the evidence given by the government in court that it was not true that they had decided to give the hospitals to Vitals even before the tender document for the concession was published. The judge has declared what Simon Busuttil thumped so often in his stump speech on the eve of the 2017 general election: that Joseph Muscat, Chris Cardona (then as minister for Malta Enterprise) and Konrad Mizzi lied to the country to take three hospitals away from the people to give them to faceless profiteers.
This is the subject of an ongoing criminal inquiry that Repubblika fought in court to start and which has still not seen the light of day. While we waited justice was delayed. But now that a court has substantially ruled what has long been known, that a crime has been committed here, the fact that Joseph Muscat, Chris Cardona, Konrad Mizzi, and for specific reasons also Edward Scicluna have not faced consequences for this becomes even more unbearable.
There’ll be more to write on this.