It is a mad world

In-Nazzjon missed out on a serious administrative enquiry that is currently being conducted in Luxembourg at the offices of the European Parliament’s administration building. Where, by the way, Mark Sammut, once a devout eurosceptic, happens to work

Mark Sammut's father is the late Frans Sammut, a one-time member of Alfred Sant’s secretariat, and someone who ‘I’ remember not for his books but for his colourful character and language
Mark Sammut's father is the late Frans Sammut, a one-time member of Alfred Sant’s secretariat, and someone who ‘I’ remember not for his books but for his colourful character and language

I am just wondering what gets into Opposition campaigners and political newspapers when they concoct their stratagems. It seems to happen repeatedly and every time someone sits on the Opposition benches and gets itchy fingers: in the quest to win the next election everyone suddenly is welcome to jump on the bandwagon. As long as they play ball.

It has happened on both sides.  

With Labour it meant embracing their worst enemy, the private consultant and former TV host Lou Bondì. Before Bondì’s volte-face the PN did the same with Joe Grima, Eileen Montesin and even Ganni ‘l-Pupa’, a Zejtun thug who was allegedly responsible for some heinous crimes, including alleged beatings, bombs and burglaries.

This is politics for you.

So when I saw the front page of In-Nazzjon, the official organ of the PN, dedicated to former Labour candidate Mark A. Sammut’s book on what Panama Papers has done to Malta, I could not believe my eyes.

I have not read the book, but will do everything humanly possible not to touch a copy. Not because I am not interested in Panama, but simply because I do not fancy Sammut’s conceited and arrogant personality.

I am not quite sure if the PN really knows what this person stands for, apart from the fact that he has a history that raises more questions than it answers.   

His mother is at present actively involved in criminal libel proceedings against this newspaper over an obituary written about his father that was published in MaltaToday. The criminal libel followed demands by Mark Sammut himself for two apologies, which this newspaper duly published.

His father is the late Frans Sammut, a one-time member of Alfred Sant’s secretariat, and someone who ‘I’ remember not for his books but for his colourful character and language.

So Sammut the younger launched his book at a poorly attended press conference chaired by roaming apologist Simon Mercieca, and attended by as far as I know one journalist from the Nationalist party.

When I reported some years back that Mark Sammut had been stopped at the airport with a revolver, I was faced with legal threats. Sammut was acquitted by a first court, and then, the Appeals Court presided by the Chief Justice overturned the acquittal on appeal of the Attorney General, and handed him a suspended sentence for carrying a prohibited undeclared semi-loaded revolver inside the airport. Sammut, a notary by profession, had argued that his life was in peril because of an irked client.

He was not found guilty in the lower court, but in the appeals court the Chief Justice found Sammut guilty of illegally carrying the firearm, being in possession of the weapon and failing to notify the police of the gun when it came into his possession. The court imposed a two-month jail term suspended for one year and fined Sammut a paltry €104. 

Just imagine Sammut being caught with a revolver at an airport in New York, Heathrow, Paris or Berlin. His life would probably have been in danger – certainly would be ruined and finished. But this is Malta – someone who allegedly forgets to remove his undeclared revolver before boarding a plane, finds himself lauded on the front page of a newspaper of sorts. The next thing we should be hearing from Sammut is about the right to bear arms, as with the US’s second amendment, maybe…

Sammut of course had other interesting episodes in his life, including officiating at the signing of a pact by then opposition leader Alfred Sant and the Labour Party’s two deputy leaders, with voters: pledging not to stand for re-election if they did not fulfill their electoral promises once voted to power.  

They promised, please wait… more transparency and accountability. That was 2003. It was, if I am not mistaken, a copycat move à la Berlusconi, who had done the same thing when trying to impress on voters that he was their saviour. 

In his criminal proceedings against this newspaper over what he and his mother consider to be an offence to the memory of his father, he stated that one of the offensive aspects of the obituary was the editor’s decision to produce a picture of his late father with former President Eddie Fenech Adami!

Obviously I cannot understand what is so insulting about appearing in a photograph with Fenech Adami.

Now, In-Nazzjon and Net TV have chosen to highlight the precarious state of our democracy by giving Mark Sammut’s book a majestic reportage. 

The front page of In-Nazzjon on Friday 4 Novemer
The front page of In-Nazzjon on Friday 4 Novemer

It was a very good idea for Mark Sammut, but not for common sense.

In-Nazzjon, however, has in the meantime missed out on a serious administrative enquiry that is currently being conducted in Luxembourg at the offices of the European Parliament’s administration building. Where, by the way, Mark Sammut, once a devout eurosceptic, happens to work.

Well, the Luxembourg enquiry is investigating accusations against Mark Sammut for having allegedly threatened, intimidated and slandered Joseph Caruana, his Maltese head of unit, and for having apparently also used foul language and acted aggressively towards him.

Sammut has counter-accused Caruana of the same exact charges.

Now if In-Nazzjon wants to convince readers and floaters and switchers of how insecure Malta has become as a democracy under Muscat they should look for some alternative heroes, with some more credible background, whom we can look up to and say: “Yes, this man/woman is talking some sense.”

***

Today’s front page story is perhaps a reflection of the state of the police in Malta, or shall we say in Gozo. It has always been like this it seems.

How someone who has threatened a woman and was arrested with a firearm can be allowed to walk out of police custody to be able to play in a soccer match and then return to face court proceedings, is beyond me.

The story also states that someone from the ministry phoned the police to allow Daniel Bogdanovic to play in the game Xewkija Tigers versus Kercem.

This is some serious stuff. We know that Xewkija Tigers club premises was bought as a result of a partial guarantee from Anton Refalo, who is today the Gozo Minister, and that the coach of the team happens to be the head of secretariat in Ian Borg’s ministry.

If the story does not prove that patronage has indelibly stained the Gozo system, it surely set us thinking about the possibility.

A few weeks ago, this newspaper revealed the stunted police investigations in fiduciary companies that could have served clients linked with drugs and crime. One of the directors of the fiduciary company was Beppe Fenech Adami, today one of the two deputy leaders of the Nationalist party.

That very Sunday, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat launched an enquiry into the reason why the police did not pursue this investigation.

Today, I ask the PM to apply the same zeal and kick-start another enquiry into why the police, I would imagine the Gozo police, allowed Bogdanovic to walk out to play the game instead of being kept under arrest before he was arraigned on Monday, and whether there was any political interference for this to take place.

And I would expect Opposition leader Simon Busuttil to be consistent and lambast our news report of today, and question the malice in our reporting and the timing of our story (I wonder what will be happening tomorrow that our front page is meant to obfuscate…) Oh, and don’t forget to add that this is just some other Castille leak.

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