Let’s see if we can get this right

Malta Independent - - INTERVIEW -

Mal­taTo­day, a pa­per that is, let’s say, close in ide­ol­ogy to that of the rul­ing party, comes out with a story that heav­ily im­plies the Deputy Leader of the Op­po­si­tion in money laun­der­ing. Within a few hours, the Prime Min­is­ter latches on to the story and or­ders an in­quiry headed by an in­de­pen­dent mem­ber of the ju­di­ciary.

This is tak­ing place in a coun­try where the mem­bers of the ju­di­ciary are ap­pointed by the head of gov­ern­ment who has not hes­i­tated to ap­point to the bench mem­bers of the party it­self.

To a per­son who has just landed in Malta from Mars, this is noth­ing less than short­cir­cuit jus­tice, not much dif­fer­ent from the jus­tice as prac­tised in Kafka and as ex­em­pli­fied in the Com­mu­nist regimes of East­ern Europe. The rul­ing power, let’s not

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per­son­ify it in the per­son of the prime min­is­ter, can be the source of a story den­i­grat­ing the Op­po­si­tion, the power that calls for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and by dint of ap­point­ing the mem­bers of the ju­di­ciary, hav­ing enough power to find the per­son be­ing in­ves­ti­gated guilty on all counts.

There are no checks and bal­ances, it’s plain and sim­ple – awe­some naked power, unchecked and un­tram­meled. Ob­vi­ously, since we do not ex­ist in a vac­uum, such an ex­er­cise of power can­not go unchecked and, in fact, can eas­ily be thrown out by any Euro­pean Court of Human Rights.

But till then, un­til this power is checked by a su­pe­rior and supra­na­tional court, the peo­ple of this coun­try have only lo­cal jus­tice to tell them who is right and who is wrong and, the scales of jus­tice be­ing so tilted in the way we have de­scribed, Beppe Fenech Adami, a gad­fly in the side of the gov­ern­ment, is as good as guilty.

Ob­vi­ously, too, the fact that this flurry of rev­e­la­tions and alacrity on the part of the gov­ern­ment to en­sure that jus­tice is done – an alacrity that is quite rare, as the man who spent 13 months in jail on a charge that was patently wrong can at­test – has co­in­cided with the en­try into Mal­tese wa­ters of a tanker well gone in years and which is to func­tion as a gas tank on sea to pro­vide a power sta­tion that is not yet com­mis­sioned, is just that, a co­in­ci­dence.

As too is the co­in­ci­dence that just a week be­fore Par­lia­ment be­gins the process of do­ing away with crim­i­nal li­bel, the former Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice, now a lawyer, is seek­ing the power of crim­i­nal li­bel to nob­ble down the editor of the sis­ter Sun­day pa­per of this pa­per in de­fence of a man who was a school col­league of the head of gov­ern­ment.

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