Vigil for Truth and Justice

I was invited to deliver a speech at The Vigil for Truth and Justice organised by Repubblika, Occupy Justice Malta and Manuel Delia on the 16th February 2020. Below is the full text of my speech.

Fellow activists.

When I was asked to deliver a speech here this evening, I started thinking: what message could I pass on to you that has not been passed on to you already? What is there that needs to be said that has not been said already?

Then it struck me that a good message to bring to you is one that we can never have enough of, especially when the odds seem heavily stacked against us. One of hope. One of encouragement.

If we look around us, it may well seem that we are in a hopeless and dire situation.

Till a few weeks ago, we had a prime minister – Joseph Muscat – who was awarded the title of The 2019 MAN OF THE YEAR IN ORGANIZED CRIME AND CORRUPTION by OCCRP.

For context, OCCRP is the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. It’s a non-profit media organization that connects 45 non-profit investigative centres and scores of journalists in 34 countries across four continents to turn the tables on corruption and abuse of power happening at the expense of the people.

OCCRP must certainly have been spoilt for choice when choosing the winner of the award. Yet it chose Joseph Muscat.

What are we faced with today?

The 2019 MAN OF THE YEAR IN ORGANIZED CRIME AND CORRUPTION’s chosen one appointed as prime minister.

The 2019 MAN OF THE YEAR IN ORGANIZED CRIME AND CORRUPTION’s cabinet of ministers still in power. A cabinet that oversaw the transformation of Malta into a melting pot of corruption, criminality and treason of the highest order.

An assassinated journalist. Daphne Caruana Galizia. A case still far from resolved. Justice deliberately delayed. Justice deliberately denied.

A prime minister – Joseph Muscat – who received gifts from, and who consorted with, the alleged mastermind behind Daphne’s assassination.

The prime minister’s chief of staff – Keith Schembri – being investigated for complicity in the assassination, as well as a whole litany of other offences, and who consorted with the alleged mastermind behind Daphne’s assassination.

A deputy police commissioner, a governor on the board of the FIAU, Malta’s watchdog for economic crime – Silvio Valletta –  who allegedly leaked information about the investigation to, and who consorted with, the alleged mastermind behind Daphne’s assassination.

Institutions systematically captured, paralysed, emasculated.

But take courage friends. The situation may look bleak, hopeless.

But it is not. Far from it.

At the height of the Second World War, Churchill visited his old school Harrow, where he delivered a speech. The situation looked dire then too. The Germans had 4 times as many war planes as the British had, at a time when victory in war was becoming more and more dependent on air superiority.

Here’s what he told his audience:

never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never, -in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

It is true that we still have a long and difficult way ahead of us, but let us also not forget what we have achieved.

We have made civil society a national force to be reckoned with.

We have been instrumental in forcing the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

We have been instrumental in forcing the resignation of his chief of staff and chief of schemes, Keith Schembri.

And they called us erbat iqtates. Amazing what erbat iqtates can do, no?

Going forward, here are two things we need to focus our energies on:

  1. Firstly, ensure that every story that our journalists expose or have exposed, are investigated. Every story that is not investigated increases the impunity in this country. Every story that is not investigated continues to dismantle law and order and the rule of law in this country. Every story that is not investigated puts our brave journalists increasingly at risk.
  2. Secondly, mobilise people. Democracy is being wiped out, slowly, surely. Our friends may not all be realising this, or its ramifications and the impact that it is having and that it will have on their lives. Remember. Democracy does not go out with a bang. An Armageddon. It goes out in tiny, sometimes imperceptible steps. Till one fine day it’s gone.

Don’t accept arguments like I’m not interested in politics. People confuse politics with petty partisanship. Politics is about the air we breathe, the education our children receive, the law and order in our streets, the justice in our courts….pretty much everything around us.

We have but one goal. Victory. Victory for justice, for rule of law, for democracy. Victory against corruption, crime and impunity. Victory whatever the cost may be.

We will be relentless, uncompromising, unyielding. We will go on to the end. We will not falter. We will never give up. We will never surrender. We will prevail.

“Valletta l-oħxon”

In a recording played in court in the proceedings related to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assasination, a “Valletta l-oħxon” was mentioned. The middleman in the assassination – Melvin Theuma – explained that this was a reference to Silvio Valletta: 

“Mr Fenech used to tell me that Mr Valletta used to pass on information to him.

MelvIn Theuma (middleman in Daphne Caruana galizia assassination) sworn testimony

Silvio Valletta was a deputy commissioner in the Malta Police Force and the chief investigator in the case of the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, till the Caruana Galizia family had him forcibly removed from the investigation by the law courts.

He was the one who set up unprecedented briefings on the investigation with former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his chief of staff Keith Schembri. 

Valletta also sat on the Board of Governors of the Financial Analysis Unit (FIAU), the national central agency in Malta that is responsible for the collection and analysis of information to combat money laundering.

FIAU Board of Governors (photo from 2014 Annual Report)

The Caruana Galizia fought hard to have him removed from the investigation.

The government fought hard to keep him in it…

The Caruana Galizia won the legal battle to have him removed.

It turns out that the Caruana Galizia family were very right to want him removed. Valletta had very close ties with the alleged mastermind (or one of the masterminds) behind the assassination, Yorgen Fenech.

The former deputy police chief Silvio Valletta holidayed abroad with Yorgen Fenech when the business magnate had already been identified by the police as a person of interest in the murder investigation.

They travelled to London together on a business class flight to watch a football match from a private box on September 29th 2018.

Valletta was taken off the case in June 2018; Fenech had been identified as a suspect by May 2018.

Valletta holidayed with Fenech when he knew that Fenech was a person of interest in the investigation into Caruana Galizia assassination case.

The Times also reported that when Mr Valletta travelled abroad with Mr Fenech, the FIAU had just handed police an intelligence report detailing how Mr Fenech, the Electrogas power station director, was the owner of mystery Dubai company 17 Black, which was to pay the then Minister for Energy Konrad Mizzi and the then prime minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri some €5,000 a day each.

We now know that the ex-prime minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri was involved in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

We now know that Valletta, then one rank away from the top job in the police force, was leaking information about the investigation to help those involved evade justice.

Malta IS a Mafia state. It’s impossible not to realise this. And if you think that this has nothing to do with you, you’re very wrong. It does, so don’t look away or sit on the fence.

 

There’s only one point

The Constitutional Court ruled that minister Owen Bonnici breached Manuel Delia’s fundamental human right to free expression when he (Bonnici) ordered the removal of flowers, candles and messages of protest that Delia placed at the foot of the Great Siege monument in Valletta as part of the campaign for truth and justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Manuel Delia filed the protest in his name out of legal necessity, but had every protester who ever placed a candle, a flower a photo, a picture or a message at the foot of the monument filed the same case, they would have received the same judgement.

The Labour Party spin machine is working at full capacity to downplay the ruling, so let’s make sure that no-one loses sight of what the one and only point is:

Owen Bonnici breached human rights.

The rights of several people for several times.

He did this with the full blessing of the then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

He did this with the full blessing of Joseph Muscat’s cabinet, which was made up of pretty much the same people who are in Robert Abela’s current cabinet.

Abela says that he wants to set a new standard of governance. But he can never make it happen. Nor does he want to. 

 

 

Rule of law or musical chairs?

The rule of law is fundamental to protecting people’s rights and freedoms, and is foundational to curbing corruption, restraining the abuse of power, and to establishing the social contract between people and the state.

Contrary to popular belief, the goal of the rule of law is to control the abuse of power, not to ensure citizens submit to formal legal processes; the latter happens even in dictatorships.

The World Justice Project developed a working definition of rule of law based on four universal principles, the first of which is that government officials must be accountable under the law.

This means that government officials get sanctioned for misconduct such as using public office for private gain.

So it’s not enough that government officials that were close to Keith Schembri such as Neville Gafa resign or get transferred from OPM to some ministry.

The work they did needs to be scrutinised for bribery, improper influence by public or private interests, and misappropriation of public funds or other resources.

Bear in mind that these are the minions of a man under investigation for murder and a litany of other offences which include corruption, leaking extensive information about the investigation into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, obstructing justice, and acquiring a phantom job for middleman Melvin Theuma.

If this does not happen then what we are seeing is merely a charade, a travesty of rule of law, of justice, a game of musical chairs with a few expendables as collateral damage.

Call a spade a spade

Disgraced and discredited ex-prime minister Joseph Muscat said that he is paying the highest price possible for “whatever mistakes I made or were made by others”, whilst freshly appointed prime minister Robert Abela is continuing in the same vein, assuring all that “mistakes will not happen again”.

But “mistakes” were not what bought down Joseph Muscat. Crime and corruption bought him down. Crime and corruption which he allowed to happen under his watch bought him down.

Premeditated murder is not a mistake. It’s a crime. Earning millions of euros illicitly (off taxpayers’ money) is not a mistake. It’s a crime. Corruption in the prime minister’s office is not a mistake. It’s a crime.

Whenever we allow people to relegate corruption and crime to mistakes, we allow them to rationalise and justify corruption and crime and even to trivialise them.

Crime and corruption are not mistakes. Crime and corruption are exactly that – crime and corruption. They should be called crime and corruption and they should be treated as crime and corruption.

And the new prime minister speaking of crime and corruption as mistakes does not bode well.

Nothing wrong Robert? Think again

Robert Abela says he sees nothing wrong for his legal firm to continue “competing” for government work if he is elected Prime Minister if he resigns from the firm.

He’s wrong. What he see as “nothing wrong” actually goes against the law. It’s illegal. Even if he resigns from the firm.

The aspiring Prime Minister of Malta does not understand that the possibility or perception of conflicts of interest are considered as actual conflicts of interest at law.

He never understood that good governance is not only about doing things in the right way, but also about being perceived to do things in the right way.

The EU has laws on conflicts of interest.

The applicable EU provision is Article 24 of the consolidated directive on public procurement, which applies as law and above any Maltese law within its scope.

Member States shall ensure that contracting authorities take appropriate measures to effectively prevent, identify and remedy conflicts of interest arising in the conduct of procurement procedures so as to avoid any distortion of competition and to ensure equal treatment of all economic operators.


The concept of conflicts of interest shall at least cover any situation where staff members of the contracting authority or of a procurement service provider acting on behalf of the contracting authority who are involved in the conduct of the procurement procedure or may influence the outcome of that procedure have, directly or indirectly, a financial, economic or other personal interest which might be perceived to compromise their impartiality and independence in the context of the procurement procedure.

DIRECTIVE 2014/24/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL Conflicts of interest


The conflicts here are obviously massive. Here are a few:

  • Abela has an interest in his wife, a member of his family, making money.
  • There’s a direct hierarchical relationship between all awarding officers and Abela as prime minister.
  • Employees of public authorities may have an interest in helping Abela and his family as that can have an impact on their career.

Effectively, Robert Abela is planning to break the law once he becomes Prime Minister.


Repubblika PR

09.01.2020

Repubblika will be holding a General Meeting on Saturday 11 January 2020 to discuss and consider the adoption of its policy document “Malta Ġdida: Repubblika Ġdida”. The meeting has been convened with the following agenda.

09:00 Registration

09:30 Call to Order   + Introduction by Robert Aquilina, President-Elect

09:40 Presentation of Policy  Document by Manuel Delia

10:00 Debate Part 1

10:45 Coffee Break

11:15 Debate Part 2

11:45 Vote

11:50 Concluding remarks by Vicki Ann Cremona, President

12:10 Closing

12.15 Refreshments 

The General Meeting is convening at the St Aloysius Assembly Hall, Birkirkara. Entrance through Triq il-Kulleġġ.

The Press is invited to attend any part of the meeting and committee members will be available for interview. A digital copy of the policy document in English and Maltese will be provided.


Letter to Dr Robert Abela

Dear Dr Abela,

I was happy to find out that you “tolerate” protests. Your democratic credentials are second to none.

It gives me much peace of mind and serenity to know that you are aware that the right to protest is a human right arising out of a number of recognised human rights such as the right to freedom of assembly, the right to freedom of association, and the right to freedom of speech.

This excerpt from article19.org supports your benevolent tolerance of protests for which I am sure the whole Maltese nation is so grateful for:

The right of all people to express their ideas and opinions through the medium of protest, in any form, is guaranteed through a number of core international human rights provisions, including the right to free expression. Protests are an essential way for individuals to express dissent and grievances, to share views and opinions, to expose flaws in governance and to publicly demand that the authorities and other powerful entities are accountable for their actions. Protests provide people with an opportunity to have a say in public life.

They have historically inspired positive social change and improved protection of human rights. They continue to form an essential part of public debate and expression in all parts of the world and can take many forms both in the physical and online space. Yet governments around the world too often treat protests as either an inconvenience to be controlled or a threat to be extinguished. Despite their obligations to promote, protect and respect the right to protest, governments frequently use excessive force, arbitrary arrest and detention and other forms of intimidation and harassment to prevent or crack down on protest rights, particularly those critical of government actions.

Given the above, I do hope to see you protesting against the stench of corruption at Castille, and the poor governance shown by this government, one example of which could potentially be the inordinate amount of direct orders your law firm receives from government ministries, departments and agencies on a regular basis.

Best regards,

A grateful citizen

PS Best of luck with the diabolical pact matter.