After yesterday’s session hearing his case to have Magistrate Gabriella Vella removed from the inquiry into corruption in the privatisation of three hospitals, Joseph Muscat predictably went to Facebook, his favourite court room. He picked on a couple of issues, one of which was an answer he got from Robert Aquilina, Repubblika’s president, who was on the witness stand yesterday.
Some background first because this is interesting. Joseph Muscat’s lawyer Charlon Gouder harassed Robert Aquilina at the session before yesterday’s to hand over copies of the filing Repubblika made in 2019 asking for a criminal inquiry in the privatisation of the hospital. Robert Aquilina said that he doesn’t own Repubblika. He needed to ask the organisation’s committee if they agreed to do this. Yesterday Robert Aquilina came back with an answer. Repubblika’s committee said no.
And this is my translation of Joseph Muscat’s reaction on Facebook.
“Repubblika does not want to present in court the document with which they opened the inquiry by Magistrate Gabriella Vella. You have to wonder why these people who talk so much about transparency want to hide this document. What are they hiding? Maybe they’re scared this document will show how many laws and rules are being broken in their attempt to seek revenge through this mistrusted inquiry.”
Here’s this, Joseph Muscat.
To begin with, Repubblika is not accountable to you. We are accountable to our members. We are not prime ministers or former prime ministers. We are not the government or a state agency. We have no obligation of being transparent, especially with you. We are a voluntary organisation funded by our members and our obligation to transparency is to them and, within the limits set out by law, to the regulator of the voluntary sector.
So if we don’t want to help you in your effort to undermine a judicial process that is examining your quite possibly criminal conduct when you were prime minister it is because what matters here is your accountability to us, not ours to you.
If we needed a reason to refuse to help you, it could be as little as the fact that you wish for our help. Do you wish for something from us? Here’s our middle finger. That’s reason enough for us to walk away.
Secondly, you’re only asking us for this document because the courts rejected your demands for it from them. And the reason they did that is you have no right to the proceedings of an inquiry which until it is concluded and the attorney general decides to proceed to prosecute you is sealed away from all eyes, including, and especially, yours. That is why everyone has rejected your request for this document because you have no right to see it.
If you are ultimately charged with crimes you’ll become entitled to discovery. You’ll be given by your prosecutor access to the evidence that may be used against you. That will be your right. And it’s not for us to respect your right or otherwise. The respect of your rights are the obligation of the state, which we most certainly are not.
Thirdly, we don’t care if you think that when we insist with institutions that they do not exempt politicians and bullies like you from the ordinary enforcement of the law we are being vindictive towards you. You fancy that we owe you revenge. You tell your audience we resent the fact that you won the 2013 election. If only you knew how ridiculous you sound when we’ve already watched you tumble down the steps of Castille three years ago in local shame and international disgrace.
When we realised that you took office in 2013 for your own enrichment, when we figured out what your roadplan was, we were unhappy as anyone with some love of country that you were prime minister. But our unhappiness was irrelevant. Ultimately, despite your best efforts, your own cabinet colleagues kicked you out and threw you down the steps of Castille the moment they realised that if they kept you in office for a day longer they all risked falling with you. They’re the ones who betrayed you. You always knew what we thought of you. Your surprise came from your back while we shouted to your front.
You never needed anybody’s revenge. It is your actions that disgraced you. And if ever you’re placed in the dock, if you’re ever put in the cage in which you belong, it will be only to your credit. No document we wrote can incriminate you. Only the crimes you would have committed can incriminate you and those are your responsibility alone.
You say that we “do not want to present in court the document that started the inquiry,” which is of course a complete lie. We have presented in court the document that started the inquiry. That’s how the inquiry started, you nincompoop. I was there. I signed on the dotted line, swearing to the veracity of the evidence we presented. It was in the court building. If we hadn’t done that there’d have been no inquiry. The police certainly didn’t ask for one. We did.
It’s to you that we do not want to give a copy of the document, not to the court. The court has it. You don’t, and that’s how it should be because the court is the court, and you, Joseph Muscat, are a likely suspect in an inquiry into very serious crimes. See the difference, you schoolyard bully you?
You use the passive voice when you describe the inquiry into the hospitals as “mistrusted”, “sfiduċjata”. But we know what that really means. It is you who does not trust the inquiry because this inquiry could be investigating your conduct. How could you trust it? Especially when you know about the payments you received from the company that received payment when Steward took over the hospitals concession from Vitals.
Your mistrust is probably well placed because you are probably one of the few persons alive that know more about what you’ve done than the inquiry itself. The rest of us know enough to suspect you. You may very well know enough to convict you.
Fortunately, we do not rely on the confidence of the suspected or the accused in criminal investigations into their conduct. A man on trial can scream they do not trust the judge who is trying them until they’re blue in the face. It does not matter what they think. Their rights will be protected whether they want them to be or not. They will have a right to discovery of the evidence that may be used against them. They’ll be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. They’ll be tried by a jury of their peers depending on the severity of their crime. They’ll be given equality of arms when they make their defence. They will not be forced to testify and possibly incriminate themselves.
Joseph Muscat, you have the right for all that and we’ll march in the street to protect those rights for you. The courts decided you do not have a right to the document we filed when we asked for an inquiry that reached you. Gaslighting us as hypocrites, or bullying us into defending our toes-through-the-viscera-right-up-to-the-crown dislike of you, does not change any of that.
Fuck off, why don’t you?