The Malta Independent 18 June 2024, Tuesday
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TMID Editorial: Institutions, but only for some?

Saturday, 25 March 2023, 09:15 Last update: about 2 years ago

The news that a court has ordered the police to investigate Mark Camilleri over his publication of thousands of WhatsApp chats between sitting MP Rosianne Cutajar and alleged Daphne Caruana Galizia murder mastermind Yorgen Fenech leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

We will not go into the merits of what Camilleri is being investigated for, but the bitter taste derives from how quickly the authorities pounced into action on someone who has exposed a member of the parliament for her relationship with a businessman, and also the seemingly close relationship between the businessman and the upper echelons of the government himself, when in other instances action has been far too slow.

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Besides the embarrassment directed at Rosianne Cutajar, the chats, which occurred between June and September 2019, also indicate that Yorgen Fenech had a close insight into what was happening within the government. Why else would a sitting MP resort to asking a businessman about when Malta’s next EU Commissioner will be announced?

The chats were leaked on Tuesday, on the eve of a sitting for the libel case which Cutajar had filed against Camilleri after the former Book Council chairman had said that there was a close, intimate relationship between the MP and Fenech.

The day after the exchanges were published on Camilleri’s website, Cutajar’s lawyers filed an urgent application to request an investigation, arguing that the publication breached a ban imposed by the court in Fenech’s case in relation to the journalist’s murder.

Madam Justice Edwina Grima had banned the publication of all typed and electronic data in Fenech’s case file in November 2021. Cutajar’s lawyers argued that Camilleri had breached laws prohibiting publication of such documents.

They called on the Attorney General to act without delay. The AG acted promptly and later on Wednesday, the court ordered the police commissioner to investigate whether the publication of these messages had been prohibited by the court.

The Police Commissioner also acted quickly, informing the judge that investigations had confirmed that Camilleri’s publication had breached the November 2021 ban.

In light of that information the court ordered the Police Commissioner to take criminal action against Camilleri before the Magistrates’ Courts for contempt of court on Thursday – not even 48 hours after the chats were published.

The speed with which the AG and police commissioner acted is impressive. They should be acting with such speed on all cases where allegations have been made.

But one wonders why such promptness was not practised when it came to the investigation of the recently annulled hospitals deal, even though in 2020, the NAO had found that there had been collusion to award the original tender.

Why was it not practised to investigate the fact that Yorgen Fenech’s secret company 17 Black was listed as a target client of Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi’s panama companies.

Why was it not practised during the investigations of corruption allegations involving Enemalta and Yorgen Fenech in the purchase of a wind farm in Montenegro? Ironically, just this week we saw reports that the police delayed searching Enemalta’s offices in connection with this case.

Why was it not practised to bring the people responsible for the death of 20-year-old JeanPaul Sofia in a construction collapse last December to justice? Or when it could have served to prevent the murder of Bernice Cassar?

The authorities should act promptly and fast in all cases, and not just on some.

But even when cases do make it to court, we’ve seen institutions, like the Attorney General in particular, flounder. One example is when bribery charges against Yorgen Fenech’s lawyers were dropped after a blunder by the AG’s office.

Another recent example was when the people charged with murdering Sion Grech were freed while the victim’s family pointed out shortcomings in the investigation and prosecution, in a case which took 18 years to make it to trial.

The list of cases where the country’s institutions have failed to take action or taken action in an ineffective manner goes on, and on.

The Attorney General’s office and the Police Commissioner were quick to spring into action when it was a government MP’s reputation on the line.

It’s about time they sped everything else up, otherwise they will continue to be seen as trying to protect the few.

 

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