The Malta Independent 27 September 2023, Wednesday
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TMID Editorial: Would we have known if the video wasn’t published?

Saturday, 19 November 2022, 10:05 Last update: about 11 months ago

A video of a motorist being beaten up on the ground by two Transport Malta officials shocked the nation when it emerged earlier this week.

The video, posted by Lovin Malta, shows a Transport Malta official getting off his motorbike, heading over to the man who was face down on the ground and punching him in the head, while another officer also joined in.

Another officer later turns up to restrain his colleague, pulling him away. Someone is heard shouting for the officers to stop beating the man lying on the ground.

The two officials in the video have been identified as Rene Antonelli and Ivan Cassar.  Antonelli is an electoral canvasser of former Transport minister Ian Borg. 

This is perhaps no coincidence: Transport Malta is known as being one of the most egregious of government entities when it comes to jobs for friends of ministers – but that is a separate point perhaps worthy of a different editorial.

The incident in question allegedly happened on 26 October but only emerged on 15 November.

Immediately after it emerged, current Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia was quick to react by saying that the two officials had been “suspended immediately” and that an investigation into the matter with the involvement in the police was underway.

However, this begs the question: had this incident not emerged in the media, would these two officials have been suspended?

After all, the video was only published in the public domain a whole 19 days after the incident actually happened.  We only then got to know who the officials in question were.  We only then got to know that they had been suspended.  We only then got to know how the police were investigating the case.

Would we have gotten to know about all of these things had the video not emerged?

One can hazard a guess that – because the officials themselves were only “immediately suspended” when the video emerged in the public domain, then we wouldn’t have known at all.  A suspension a whole 19 days after an incident is far from “immediate.”

What were our institutions doing in the meantime?  Did Transport Malta conspire to keep the incident under wraps?  There were two other officials who appeared in the video attempting to restrain Antonelli and Cassar: did they not report the matter to their superiors?  Did Transport Malta’s upper brass know about the incident and choose not to act on it?

These are all questions which require an answer.  It’s a pity that Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia chose to escape the scrutiny of Parliament on the same day when this video emerged rather than face up to any questions which may be asked.

The whole matter stinks of impunity: 19 days were allowed to pass before any form of action was taken and that that same action only appears to have been taken because the footage of the incident was made public.

Now let’s see if this is yet another scandal which will be swept under the carpet and for which nobody will shoulder responsibility or not.

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