The Malta Independent 16 August 2022, Tuesday

Three billboards outside Valletta, Malta

Noel Grima Sunday, 18 February 2018, 10:30 Last update: about 5 years ago

In the Oscar-nominated movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, an anguished mother seeks justice for her murdered daughter. After months pass without the culprit being caught, the mother makes a bold move, and puts up three billboards on a main motorway, with pointed messages directed at the town’s revered Chief of Police.

This provided the inspiration to one of the latest initiatives by activist group #OccupyJustice who put up three billboards on the Regional Road and at Kappara on Friday, four months to the day when Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered. I do not know what happened in the film, but I do know the three billboards in Malta were pulled down by the regime that same night.

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Daphne dead is proving to be more of a headache to the government than when she was alive. This can be seen, for instance, in Glenn Bedingfield’s suggestion to set up Daphne’s memorial somewhere far, out of sight, and in Rosianne Cutajar, telling Daphne’s son (with plenty of spelling mistakes) to shut up.

This could also be seen in the motion presented to the Valletta local council to remove the shrine in front of the Law Courts, a motion ruled ultra vires by the mayor and the hot intense, blindfolded debate that ensued and by the pitiful attempt by the Labour media and by the misguided Institute for Journalists to blow up a tragic episode into an attack on the media.

Then came the battle of images when unseen hands (impossible to be by the same person) placed images of Karen Grech, Raymond Caruana (two victims of political violence) and Dom Mintoff next to Daphne’s image at the shrine in front of the Law Courts. In a way, this ensured that there will be no repeat of the local council motion nor of any attempt to remove the shrine, now consecrated by the three persons apart from Daphne.

The four dead persons are now locked in death and eternity. So too is Malta, which seems locked in an eternal struggle between a government in denial and a small but resourceful section of the Opposition. There can be no conciliation, no compromise. Daphne cannot change: her writings and sayings are all there and will remain there. It is the government, which is alive which is thus susceptible to change.

The more I think about Daphne’s murder, the more I believe there is an evil genius behind it. Whoever ordered it knew the risks (which is why it was so meticulously planned). But then whoever ordered it presumed it would blow over and meanwhile Daphne would be gone. That is where this whoever made a crucial mistake: they thought that after the predictable outrage, a touch of repression would send all scurrying for cover and we could all move on.

Dictators think like that, dictators who can rely on impunity, on not being found out, or on generic and ill-defined alliances. That is why I can never believe the search for the ultimate whoever can ever be serious.

Beyond the investigations, am I the only one to think Daphne’s death is crystal-clear? This is why it is imperative to keep the protests going and to remain steadfast in unremitting opposition to any fake conciliation.

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