The Malta Independent 5 December 2020, Saturday

TMIS Editorial: Settle this and settle this now

Sunday, 24 November 2019, 11:30 Last update: about 2 years ago

The assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the whole 17 Black affair has been allowed to fester under the national skin for far too long now and the sooner this whole drama that has been played out on the national stage over the last week is settled, the better.

The nation has been a virtual pressure cooker and if the lid isn’t lifted soon and if some of that steam is not let out sooner rather than later, we have the distinct feeling that things, in terms of the social climate out there, are going to get an awful lot worse before they get any better.

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Just look at what happened outside of Parliament this week in the wake of the arrest of 17 Black’s and Electrogas’ Yorgen Fenech.  The country was presented with scenes it had not seen in perhaps decades, with the tone of protests having been turned up several octaves from anything we have seen in the recent past.

Just imagine what could happen if Fenech were to be granted a presidential pardon and spill the beans on what he actually knows, because in order to even consider requesting a presidential pardon one must have something big, perhaps much bigger than oneself, to offer up in return for any kind of clemency.

And when this happens, and it will happen - if not now then at some point in the future unless the current people at the helm of the Labour Party manage to hold on to government forever – the wrath of the people will only continue to spread and grow.

It will increase with each passing revelation that is yet to emerge from this whole sordid story and this will take extremely long because the web that has been woven is complex and multifaceted and as such its unravelling will be slow and complicated.

So far this week we have had a lot of focus on the ‘who’ and not the ‘why’ of the crime. And once the ‘whys’ start being investigated, that will mean every person and every nook and cranny will need to be looked into with a microscope.

And once that starts happening, there will be a lot of people to answer for their deeds, and others for their judgement calls over recent years.  And they will have to answer to the people and, by the looks of it, not just at the electoral polls

This will certainly happen, if not now then at some point down the road no matter how dusty the files have become.  And that is because the Prime Minister himself had actually lived up to one of his good governance pledges - that of removing the time prescription for cases of political corruption.

This also means that any future new government – no how matter how many years or decades from now will be – will be able to investigate and/or prosecute the whole sordid affair to the full extent of the law.

The thing is that he may very well have stitched up his closest colleagues in the process because if these matters are not definitively solved and put to rest, those colleagues will never truly be let off the hook.  The government could, however, always backtrack and remove that before leaving office, it certainly has the parliamentary majority with which to do so at any given time.

And, we assume, this will have to be done at some stage because as matters stand investigations, unless they are really being kept under wraps that well, have not been conducted without fear or favour.  If they had, we would probably have had a result by now.

This is evidenced by the fact that despite the Prime Minister having pledged to leave no stone unturned in this investigation, an international news organisation was able to discover the owner of 17 Black after spending a not inconsiderable amount of money on the investigation. Money that represents a drop in the state coffers. 

Could that news organisation really have done better than an actual government with its bottomless resources, or have those bottomless resources instead been directed toward covering this whole thing up instead?

And through this whole ruckus that has transpired this week, one also needs to ask why it is that the Prime Minister himself is disseminating information about the investigation instead of the police.  And this question is particularly pertinent when one considers that some of the Prime Minister’s closest colleagues may very well be caught up in the in the ‘whys’ of this whole case.

While we in the media appreciate his candour and openness in this respect, he very clearly needs to take a step back and the police need to take a step forward at the earliest opportunity.   After all, this prima facie direct interference raises serious concern and suspicious to interference at other levels.

The Prime Minister has appealed for prudence and calm at the moment.  We are appealing for this whole thing to be brought to a conclusive end and for full justice to be served up in every respect because none of this is healthy for the nation on any level whatsoever.

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