The Malta Independent 13 December 2019, Friday

TMID Editorial: Policemen and politicians - A violation of democracy

Monday, 2 December 2019, 08:33 Last update: about 10 days ago

A proper democracy is based on the separation of the political arm from the institutions that are supposed to be independent, such as the police.

This week, we got to know that this principle was violated in the most flagrant of manners: the Police Commissioner took part in a Cabinet meeting.

The reason for his participation makes this sin even graver: he discussed with Cabinet the ongoing investigation into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Cabinet, together with the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General, also discussed the pardon request made by Yorgen Fenech – a pardon he is requesting in return for information on former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri.

But it gets worse. The Commissioner presented Cabinet with a four-page letter outlining a plot allegedly hatched by Keith Schembri and Yorgen Fenech to frame up Chris Cardona for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

To put things into perspective, Keith Schembri occupied an office in the same building up until last Tuesday.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday night, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he had washed his hands of the decision and let Cabinet take a decision on its own. The fact remains that these ministers and parliamentary secretaries decided to reject a pardon that could have landed one of their former colleagues in trouble.

This is, in fact, the basis of a court application filed by Fenech on Friday, in which he is asking the courts to nullify Cabinet’s rejection of his pardon request. We have no sympathy towards someone who has been charged with organising and financing, along with others, the murder of a colleague. But the argument made in his court application makes perfect sense. 

We fail to understand how the pardon was refused when the person requesting it claims to have incriminating information on Schembri. We also fail to understand how the Prime Minister said these claims are being “actively investigated” a few hours after Schembri was released without charge, rather than be placed under police bail.

And we also fail to understand why the Police Commissioner, who has so far shied away from the media and failed to hold a single press conference, agreed to brief the government with the details of an investigation that is linked to members of that same government.

We have to point out that this meeting took place after the Prime Minister said he was not going to make any more announcements related to the investigation, after the flak that he received for acting as the police spokesperson.

This farce has dragged on for far too long. By the time this editorial went to print, the prime minister was still to announce whether he will be resigning with immediate effect or in the weeks to come. We have said it before and we will say it again, the PM should resign now, before the country suffers even more damage.

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