This is not a misdirected discussion with a marriage counsellor. It’s a discussion about our weird relationship with our police force and our prosecution service. By ‘our’ I don’t mean mine, or Repubblika’s, or anyone specific even. I mean with the people of Malta, generally law-abiding citizens who pay these people their salaries to represent their interests.

A police inspector took the stand yesterday in the case he, with others, is prosecuting against Malta’s former prime minister, and very senior officials in the government he ran. I don’t want to make this about that police inspector. He appears to be relatively new. When testifying he said this was the first inquiry he was dealing with. Imagine that. New on the job and the first time he gets to deal with a major crime, it’s the prosecution of a former prime minister on charges that could see him jailed for 18 years.

I don’t want to make this about that police inspector but lawyers for some of the accused placed him on the stand as their witness and put questions to him the answers to which those defence lawyers fully expected would help their clients’ case.

Testifying, the inspector confirmed he had not himself investigated the crimes Joseph Muscat et alia are accused of having committed. He’s familiar with the accusations but not with the evidence to back them up. That’s all right, you’d think. The police force is not just one man. There must have been teams digging up the evidence.

No. Nobody in the police force has investigated these alleged crimes. Nobody has perused the evidence. The closest any gal or boy in blue has got to the evidence is carrying it from the Attorney General’s office to the court building, printed out on hundreds of thousands of pages piled in carboard boxes wrapped in transparent tape, unopened, unseen, in exactly the state we saw them piled up at the feet of Magistrate Rachel Montebello the day of Muscat’s arraignment.

It wasn’t just his decision, the inspector clarified, helpfully. His superiors, some of them squatting in the courtroom prosecuting a case they have not themselves investigated, and headed by the perpetually absent Angelo Gafà decided they were not going to investigate this crime. Never. Not when it was first exposed. Not when it was alleged. Not when an inquiry was launched. Not when it was completed.

It’s like they’re splattered with the blood from a vicious knife attack on a police station bench and the police officers present call a magistrate and say they won’t investigate the murder because they’re leaving it up to the magistrate.

First question I’d have for the police then. If you did not investigate this crime, what bloody use are you to the prosecutors from the Attorney General’s office who, unlike you, are in possession of a fucking law degree? How are you of any help to them?

And a second, more generally applicable, question. If not to investigate crimes, what are the police for? A lawyer for the defence, oozing self-serving sarcasm, volunteered an answer. They’re parrots (repeating lines spoken by a magistrate which they did not verify for themselves) and porters (carrying boxes for Victoria Buttigieg because she can’t be expected to carry a box now, can she?).

The police decided they were not going to investigate this crime. And they have declared this in open court.

The lawyers representing the accused did not ask the witness, the police inspector who did not inspect, the obvious and logical next question you would ask. ‘Why?’ Wherefore did you not so?

The accused are only interested in their own answer as to why, especially because an honest and sincere answer by the police inspector to that question could render the rest of his testimony harmful to them.

You can see why they were only interested only in the answer to their first question: ‘Did the police investigate? No.’ It is because at this stage they’ll try to have the whole case thrown out prima facie, at face value, as if it is immediately obvious that there is no case to answer.

A prima facie dismissal occurs when there is an obvious mistake: like the court realises the police charged the wrong man, or the police have issued obviously trumped-up charges to harass the wrongly accused.

The accused will want to argue that it was obvious to the police that there was no case to answer which is whythey did not investigate. And since it was obvious to the police there was no case to answer, it should also be obvious to the court that the accused should be let off the have their summer BBQ at a Barbados resort.

You see, when you want to draw your own conclusions as to why someone did or did not do something, it’s safer not to ask them.

This is a case brought by the state against a former prime minister. The public deserves answers. Defendants in court have every right to limit their questions tactically to serve their own interests. But none of that qualifies the public’s right to ask questions the defendants would rather not.

Why? Why did the police not investigate this?

Why are the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General not explaining to the public the case they are bringing in court? This would be entirely normal anywhere in the world. They can’t look for local precedent because a prime minister has never been prosecuted for corruption here. But they can see what would happen anywhere else: they would explain the charges, they would describe the evidence disclosed to the defendants, they would give account of their expectations from the case and explain its motivation. They would answer questions.

Instead, they give us the silent treatment.

The police would investigate this to make sure all bases are covered, and the Attorney General would put together the best possible case.

Instead, they are both saying they are “relying on the magistrate” who wrote the inquiry. But the magistrate who wrote the inquiry will now be nowhere near the case. She is not an investigator, nor has she ever been. She is not a prosecutor either.

This is why the defendants don’t ask the inspector why the police have not investigated this case. It’s because the honest answer would not be that they believe there is no case to answer. It is because this is a case they do not want made.

The prosecution of Joseph Muscat risks becoming the last crisis of trust in our justice and law enforcement system, in equality before the law, in the competence of the prosecution service, in the determination of the police to apply the law without fear or favour. It risks becoming the sunset of the rule of law and the sunrise of the rule of delinquents.

You’d try not to lose hope but what of it is left when a police inspector stands in court and with the palms of his hand on the sides of his face says, repeatedly, and apparently without embarrassment, that he and his colleagues, his bosses and his underlings, have not investigated this crime?