In pur­suit of jus­tice and truth

The events that took place this week, in court and in par­lia­ment, have con­tin­ued to high­light the need for per­se­ver­ance by those of us who feel that jus­tice and truth must al­ways pre­vail.

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Claudette But­tigieg is a PN MP – cbut­, twit­ter: @ButClaudette

Last Fri­day, our high­est court ruled in favour of a claim that the PN has been mak­ing for the past four years. Dur­ing the count­ing of the gen­eral elec­tion votes in 2013, a pack of 50 first­pref­er­ence votes were sup­posed to be placed un­der my name but they were er­ro­neously mis­placed un­der an­other can­di­date’s. This led to a gross per­ver­sion of the pref­er­ence ex­pressed by vot­ers. On the 8th dis­trict, the peo­ple chose to elect three PN can­di­dates and two Labour can­di­dates – but the re­sult was turned on its head, with three Labour can­di­dates given a par­lia­men­tary seat in­stead.

For the past nearly four years we sat in court lis­ten­ing to mem­bers of the elec­toral commission ad­mit­ting to their mis­take, while a team led by Labour lawyers tried to prove that this mis­take could not (and should not) be cor­rected.

Now that jus­tice has pre­vailed, I feel a huge per­sonal sat­is­fac­tion. I can fi­nally say that I was elected on my own steam. I did not need a math­e­mat­i­cal equa­tion to put me in Par­lia­ment.

In fact, once those 50 votes go un­der my name, I end up with 42 more votes than Ed­ward Sci­cluna. This means that Min­is­ter Sci­cluna was NOT elected from two dis­tricts and Joe De­bono Grech (who re­placed Sci­cluna on the 8th dis­trict) should not even be a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment.

Of course, the courts could not re­verse this re­sult. The only op­tion was to add two more seats to the PN side to make up for the huge in­jus­tice that pre­vailed for the past four years.

I take this op­por­tu­nity to con­grat­u­late Ed­win Vas­sallo and Peter Mi­callef for their re­turn to Par­lia­ment and wel­come them to our team.

While the court saga ended, mat­ters in Par­lia­ment con­tin­ued to heat up.

This week we saw how Ja­son Az­zopardi’s re­spect for truth and his per­se­ver­ance in stand­ing up to it has led to an­other ob­scure rul­ing by the Speaker in Par­lia­ment.

Az­zopardi has been found to be, prima fa­cie, in breach of par­lia­men­tary priv­i­lege over com­ments he made about the Jus­tice Min­is­ter, Owen Bon­nici.

The logic of this rul­ing es­capes me. Ja­son Az­zopardi said that Owen Bon­nici lied when he claimed that Hen­ley & Part­ners were only re­ceiv­ing a commission on €650,000 con­tri­bu­tion – but he said so OUT­SIDE Par­lia­ment and in the pub­lic do­main. He did this pur­posely to show he does not need the par­lia­men­tary priv­i­lege to pro­tect him. If what he is say­ing is un­true, he can be sued for li­bel.

Some­thing said out­side of Par­lia­ment should not be sub­ject to a rul­ing by the Speaker. There are the courts for that. Yet, on Wed­nes­day, the Speaker asked Ja­son Az­zopardi to with­draw or change his com­ments.

Az­zopardi re­fused to budge, at which point Si­mon Busut­til stood up in his sup­port and de­fence, ask­ing to be treated in the same way. How­ever, nei­ther Owen Bon­nici nor the Speaker took mat­ters fur­ther against Si­mon Busut­til while Az­zopardi will have to face the priv­i­leges com­mit­tee.

In sol­i­dar­ity with Ja­son Az­zopardi, and be­cause I want to fol­low Si­mon Busut­til’s ex­am­ple, I re­it­er­ate that Owen Bon­nici did not say the truth when he omit­ted to tell the Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee that Hen­ley and Part­ners were also re­ceiv­ing com­mis­sions from the sale of Gov­ern­ment bonds.

The fa­mous Amer­i­can lawyer Clarence Dar­row once wrote that “The pur­suit of truth will set you free; even if you never catch up with it.” Over the past four years, Si­mon Busut­til has shown us that per­se­ver­ance is a virtue which we must work on. The courts have given us jus­tice. The truth will one day pre­vail.

The Malta In­de­pen­dent Fri­day 2 De­cem­ber 2016

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