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.