Muscat’s testimony reveals ‘unturned stones’

Clearly, a lot more work needs to be done, before we can safely claim that ‘no stone was unturned’ to solve this murder. And Muscat’s testimony points quite clearly to which stones may have been left ou

TWO weeks ago, this newspaper commented editorially that there can be no justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia, if the alleged involvement of all other potential suspects in the case – in or out of politics - is not thoroughly investigated.

At the time, a number of fresh arrests had only just been made, after one of the original defendants – Vincent Muscat – decided to turn State evidence in exchange for a lower sentence.

But it is important to specify that – at this stage – Muscat himself had not yet began his explosive testimony in court. We only had the Police Commissioner’s word for it, that – as he stated in a press conference on February 27 - “With the evidence we have, we are in a position to say that every person involved, be it mastermind or accomplice, is under arrest or facing charges”, and; “investigators had no evidence so far that a politician was involved in the journalist’s 2017 murder.”

Even at the time, it felt like a case of premature triumphalism, at best. As pointed out in that same editorial, there was still substantial evidence – including recorded conversations with prime suspect Yorgen Fenech – which appeared to implicate high-ranking politicians, and even members of the police investigation itself, in (at minimum) a subsequent cover-up attempt.

But this was before Vincent Muscat began to tell his side of the story in court. In the past few days alone, Muscat’s testimony has opened up a previously unseen window onto the mechanics of the criminal operation behind this grisly crime (and others, too). In so doing – and even if many aspects of his version are indeed ‘hearsay’; and, as such, cannot be taken as Gospel Truth - he has radically transformed the entire narrative of this murder.

Contrary to the assurances of the Police Commissioner, this new narrative seems to be one in which certain politicians, and members of the police corps, may have been involved since as early as 2015. On multiple occasions now, Muscat has publicly claimed that former minister Chris Cardona was identified to him, by third parties, as among the masterminds of at least two of those murder conspiracies.

Admittedly, this may not add up to sufficient reason for the police to make any additional arrests, at this stage; but it is certainly enough to cast serious doubt on any claim that the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case has been ‘solved’, with the arrests made to date.

Commissioner Gafa may even be technically correct to state, in comments to the press, that: “Admissible evidence refers to what a person has experienced directly. In that sense [...] it is important that we understand that we refer to as evidence that the police and the Attorney General can use in court.”

But this proviso is limited only to whether those allegations would actually stand up in a court of law. It does not apply to the question of whether those allegations should be treated as a serious potential lead in the investigation; still less does it amount to a pretext to simply disregard the hypothesis out of hand.

This would be true of any murder investigation, at any time. But the sad reality is that – with all the political intrigue that has been brought to bear on this case; and at a time when the eyes of Europe remain firmly fixed on our internal ‘rule-of-law’ issues - it also becomes a critical factor in the successful outcome of this particular investigation.

It is no coincidence that the European People’s Party is now calling for a debate to be urgently held in the European Parliament, specifically over the revelations of Vince Mus- cat’s testimony. And while it is altogether too easy to simply dismiss this as another case of political point-scoring
– coming, as it does, from the Nationalist Party’s European parliamentary group – there is, at the end of the day, a limit to how far the ‘political football ‘argument can realistically be stretched.

Whatever other political motives may lurk beneath the surface, the EPP – or anyone else, for that matter – is within its rights to be sceptical and concerned. By any standard, it is at best anomalous to declare that a much-publicised murder case has been solved, and, more specifically, to rule out the involvement of any politicians - only for the prosecution’s own witness to publicly implicate high-ranking politicians ever since, at almost every turn.

Clearly, a lot more work needs to be done, before we can safely claim that ‘no stone was unturned’ to solve this murder. And Muscat’s testimony points quite clearly to which stones may have been left out.