My kind of rule of law

When it comes to making money, cash certainly has no political colour; there are hundreds of professionals in the financial and gaming sector, not to mention the golden passport game, who still think they are entitled to talk about Malta being a ‘mafia state’

There are hundreds of professionals in the financial and gaming sector and even the golden passport game who still think they are entitled to talk about Malta being a ‘mafia state’
There are hundreds of professionals in the financial and gaming sector and even the golden passport game who still think they are entitled to talk about Malta being a ‘mafia state’

The latest news stories in the Italian press and The Times of Malta, as part of the Daphne Project, this week dwelt on the ties between certain remote gaming companies and the Italian mafia.

They were the same stories which appeared in MaltaToday ages ago, in conjunction with collaborating reporters from the Italian media. They were conspicuously absent from The Daphne Project’s hallowed source.

But there was a very important aspect to the story that was conveniently left out by The Times of Malta (but not by its collaborators).

Nowhere in the story was it stated that the offending companies belonging to the men of honour of Cosa Nostra, were set up by David Gonzi, the son of former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi.

The Gonzi scion was indeed involved in setting-up a number of companies that were later investigated over illicit use by the ‘Ndrangheta and the Mafia. Nobody is saying he is involved with these organisations: definitely not.

But I wonder what would happen had anyone, or The Times at the very least, applied the same yardstick for David Gonzi as has been done with people of less finer pedigree. Oh I am sure a few labels suggestive of nefarious enrichment would be in order.

Now I could be a first-class jerk to merely speculate about the relationship Gonzi might have had with the personalities linked to these remote gaming companies. I’d rather not engage in that kind of typical gossip. For when it comes to making money, cash certainly has no political colour; there are hundreds of professionals in the financial and gaming sector (not to mention the golden passport game) who still think they are entitled to talk about Malta being a ‘mafia state’.

And the fact that The Times omits a factual reference to the administrators of the ‘mafia’ gaming companies, who happened to be a Gonzi, speaks volumes about the journalistic values “rooted in tradition” that the newspaper espouses.

The same cannot be said for this newspaper, which never blanked out names for the sake of protecting the sanctity of the old boys and girls.

And this brings me to the war of attrition being waged against Malta, for this is a free world and nothing should stop us from responding to those throwing stones at us.

I am not surprised that the Caruana Galizia family tends to see anybody not on their side as foes. They have rallied the international press, who have followed a narrative as if Malta were some lawless banana republic. The press has conveniently looked the other way when confronted by the diatribes and abuse that Running Commentary generated. And this meant that the international press was not just unfair, but incorrect in its portrayal of the country.

I cannot even process the narrative any longer, because I see the same problems and worse in most EU member states and the USA. The attacks in Malta, apparently to the benefit of a restricted group of people closely linked to a party clique, just makes it revolting and incredibly self-conceited.

And it gets worse when someone like Matthew Caruana Galizia responds to any criticism of his mother’s writing as if it were some coordinated act of terrorism.

This is not the age of monarchs, and we cannot avoid the truth: irrespective of her brand of journalism, and her role in Panamagate and the Pilatus saga, nothing will change the reality of her abusive, selective and cruel writings.

***

In a libel case against MaltaToday, Magistrate Francesco Depasquale decided in favour of Elton Taliana, a police inspector who had sued this newspaper over a story that appeared in August 2013. The story had alleged that Taliana had been investigated for the arson attack on my home, just a few doors away from the Naxxar police station.

Minutes before the petrol bomb was placed at the door, the police sergeant on duty left the police station at around 3am. The only people who knew this were the police themselves.

I know who knew and I had told the police that.

During the libel proceedings, I presented evidence that minutes had been inserted in Elton Taliana’s file which showed black on white comments by a senior police officer about reports made to the police – not by me – but by the Commissioner of Police John Rizzo, that alleged that Taliana could somehow have been involved in the arson.

There was an exchange of minutes and these were presented to the court. Facts speak louder than words. 

John Rizzo, the Commissioner of Police at the time of the arson said in the file: “Confidential information reached my office that Inspector Elton Taliana has not the desirable character and suitable characteristics for the post he carries. Reliable information reveals not only that he used to work as a bouncer with the worst characters one can find in the Paceville area, but also indulges in the importation of firearms and involvement in crimes, in particular arson of a residence door is mentioned to have his involvement.”

In another note a certain Inspector Huber wrote: “CONFIDENTIAL: Yesterday the 27th instance in your presence two persons called at this end in order to give confidential information regarding PS 302 Elton Taliana who is currently performing security driver duties with Hon. Tonio Borg.

“Informants stated that PS Taliana had befriended and was continually being seen with a notorious criminal namely [name withheld] of St Paul's Bay. On a regular basis Taliana is also being seen going to Gozo together with same Rapa. It was further stated that (name withheld) with the assistance of Taliana was behind two thefts which took place in Gozo. One of these thefts was from the residence of a priest whilst the other was from a residence in Qala and this took place whilst the residents were attending a funeral. Besides Taliana and (name withheld) also used to have in their possession a garage in Xlendi, Gozo. 

“It was also alleged that Taliana was acting as a certain courier from Malta to Gozo most of the times using vehicles belonging to third parties. This cocaine was being supplied to a person known as JC, and the latter had connections to the XS Xlub in Xaghra Gozo.

“Taliana was also in possession of two ID cards, one denoting a residence in Gozo whilst the other had an address in Naxxar.  

“Informants further added that Taliana together with (name withheld) was regularly doing security bouncer duties at the XS Club in Gozo and also at other venues in Malta and Gozo. It was also alleged that at one such party help at a club styled Maxtura in Gozo, a police inspector was present on duty and was repeatedly handed free drinks by the same sergeant. 

“Besides informants further added that should we wish to take necessary action as regards the security bouncer issue. A number of persons were ready to testify about this illegal part time work that Taliana was performing. They further added that Taliana would be working as a bouncer on the coming Saturday at the 30th at XS Club in Victoria.

“Referred for your information and further directions pls.”

Taliana, the police sergeant and a security detail with home affairs minister Tonio Borg was subsequently promoted to Inspector. 

Magistrate Depasquale found that the freedom of expression does not give one the right to besmirch ones’ reputation. But I rest my case.

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