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Cardinal sin

I must point out that all my defamation cases, like everybody else’s, are heard by the same magistrate - and this state of affairs is completely unacceptable

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan
14 November 2016, 8:27am
I had coined a sobriquet for Richard Cachia Caruana, ‘the Cardinal’
I had coined a sobriquet for Richard Cachia Caruana, ‘the Cardinal’
Years ago, I had coined a sobriquet for Richard Cachia Caruana, ‘the Cardinal’ – and as it happens, as most people who read the news would have noticed, I lost a defamation case against His Eminence, and was ordered to pay €3,000.

That was to be expected. The vast amount of evidence I put forward to justify my statement that Cachia Caruana had been the originator of the vile commentaries penned by the bile blogger, was not considered to be credible enough evidence to prove that comment I made in his regard.

That is quite fair, I guess.

Nevertheless, it is quite evident that in spite of all the decisions handed down in the courts on this case and many others, the perception and beliefs of people about the Cardinal will not change – most especially in regard to those who knew him well, worked with him and saw him in action.

Many describe him as a brilliant mind. But beyond the dazzling adulation exists a man who is self-conceited, arrogant and sanctimonious. In my mind and that of hundreds of others, he was the eminence grise during 25 years of Nationalist strategy on most affairs big and small. I have little doubt that, while diminished in influence, he still plays a part in the strategy unfolding in the local political coliseum. Obviously by the time the PN is re-elected, he may still be in line for a cushy job somewhere to his liking.

With utmost respect to the judicial process, I must point out that all my defamation cases, like everybody else’s, are heard by the same magistrate. I am not crying foul, but this state of affairs is completely unacceptable. The question of course does not concern the magistrate responsible, but rather the Chief Justice, Silvio Camilleri, who throughout his tenure has not understood why it is unjust and unfair, as well as humanly impossible that any one magistrate can translate the conclusions of weighty evidence, when faced with up to 21 (now down to six) defamation cases against the same individual (that individual being in fact, myself).

Court decisions do not base themselves on some mathematical formula that adds up the pluses and minuses the rest. It can be a very subjective process and dependent on the interpretation of a comment, a fact and deposition. And magistrates and judges are humans, with emotions, feelings, historical wounds and baggage.

In the last three years, as far as I know, Cachia Caruana has been awarded these damages by the same magistrate: 5K in 2014 (Joe Grima), 2K in 2015 (Evarist Bartolo and Kurt Farrugia), 5K (Alfred Briffa) and now €3,000 by myself. Not bad for someone who received a handsome remuneration when permanent representative at the EU, apart from €239,085.05 in terminal benefits when he resigned. And still has more police protection than the prime minister or leader of the Opposition. And still believes he is a target of reprisals and claims he is irrelevant.

***

This week, the police inspector who arraigned the Xewkija player Bogdanovic, stated under oath in court that she had not been told by anyone to release the player on police bail after he was arrested in a domestic violence case.

But when the enquiry calls me in, I will also state under oath what I know.

I do know for sure that when someone is apprehended and arrested for domestic violence and found in possession at home of a revolver, and bullets of course, he is not released to play football on a Sunday only to be arraigned under arrest the next day.

Somehow, it appears that what I know does not quite match the ‘latest’ version of the Inspector. But then I must say that I believe that the Inspector has a very good reason to speak as she has.

The police inspector who arraigned the Xewkija player Bogdanovic, stated under oath in court that she had not been told by anyone to release the player on police bail
The police inspector who arraigned the Xewkija player Bogdanovic, stated under oath in court that she had not been told by anyone to release the player on police bail
It is not easy to look up at your chain of command and speak your mind. It is also interesting that she also said in court that she had amended the charge sheet to clarify the original statement about the discovery of bullets. That too is quite amazing.

Now, I know all this not because I was in the Gozo courts, but simply because Charlon Gouder, the lawyer to Bogdanovic, told me what was said in court. He asked me (kindly I have to say) to state this fact in the newspaper. 

So I have.

But I have to admit that I had not quite accepted the fact that this former journalist is now working as a criminal defence lawyer, when only recently he had a full-time job with minister José Herrera. You know how it is in Malta, with two jobs and paying the mortgage.

What I do know is that the networking and peer pressure in Gozo is insufferable.

Anton Refalo has said categorically in the newspaper Illum that he did not phone to intervene with the police to release Bogdanovic. Just for the record Refalo offered a bank guarantee for the Xewkija Tigers club. He says that he does not know Bogdanovic. He could have told that to the marines. Now for the record Xewkija is the stronghold of Labour MP Justyne Caruana, but you know, with friends like these, who the heck really needs enemies?

***

Watching the posse of protestors at the LOVE monument, a structure designed by Richard England, I could not miss the unmistakable shape of George Pullicino.

Flashback to 2006, when the extension of development zones by George Pullicino brought out a mass environmental protest that has, since then, been a constant fixture in Maltese civic life. To the right of the photo, note the best placard of all: ‘Vote George, Get Lorry’, equating Pullicino to the notorious Labour minister for works, himself a lover of concrete, Lorry Sant
Flashback to 2006, when the extension of development zones by George Pullicino brought out a mass environmental protest that has, since then, been a constant fixture in Maltese civic life. To the right of the photo, note the best placard of all: ‘Vote George, Get Lorry’, equating Pullicino to the notorious Labour minister for works, himself a lover of concrete, Lorry Sant
And then I could only remember the poster ‘Vote George, Get Lorry’ from 2006, when as minister for the environment he presided over the extension of Malta’s development zones.

For George to have the gall to even remotely appear at the protest is simply incredible. Here is a politician who is the father of a ‘rationalization plan’ of development boundaries that this government has only continued to pursue with vigour. He apparently succumbed to the lobby of speculators and developers to alter local plans and continue with the advanced rape of Malta and Gozo.

When you see the over-four storey blocks in tiny villages, remember that the policy changed because of George Pullicino.

: And for his specialist subject in Mastermind, George Pullicino chooses ‘My career, 2003-2013’. Here he is seen struggling to answer one of the questions on offer. The answer, as someone who understood the demands of developers and property speculators for a decade, should be clear to him
: And for his specialist subject in Mastermind, George Pullicino chooses ‘My career, 2003-2013’. Here he is seen struggling to answer one of the questions on offer. The answer, as someone who understood the demands of developers and property speculators for a decade, should be clear to him
In terms of the irreparable harm he has caused to the environment, the last thing Pullicino should have done is to appear at the St Julian’s protest yesterday.

In Korea they have a tradition that those who err and cause great sufferance to others, genuflect before the public, apologize and retreat until their last breath to some mountain monastery as penance. Pullicino should catapult himself to a mountain cave, away from us all. But does he realise this? Either the public is dumb, or he is in denial. 

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan is the founder and co-owner of MaltaToday. He has reported on Maltese poli...
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