Why is the Prime Minister unleashing a dangerous dog?

On a more sinister level, Abela may have chosen this path because he is beholden to criminals who have an obvious interest in seeing a judiciary that is undermined and ridiculed

Prime Minister Robert Abela’s outburst on Sunday was a direct attack on the judiciary.

It was not legitimate criticism over some administrative failing or disagreement with a judgment. No; it was a warning directed squarely at the magistrate who has been leading the inquiry into the now defunct hospitals contract.

Abela accused the magistrate of “political terrorism”, a claim he repeated on Tuesday when it was confirmed that the magistrate concluded her investigation and passed on the findings to the Attorney General.

It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister chose to use these words because the only act of terrorism witnessed in this country over the past seven years was the bombing of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

It is evident that Abela’s attack on the judiciary is an attempt  to pre-empt the hypothetical situation whereby the police would press criminal charges against Joseph Muscat and others connected to the hospitals deal.

That Abela chose to do so at the start of the European Parliament election campaign in front of Labour Party delegates gathered for the final session of the general conference is even more serious.

The Prime Minister was simply fanning the flames of unbridled partisanship and unleashing a dangerous dog. It is already a fraught situation that a former prime minister could face criminal charges, let alone having the incumbent act as instigator-in-chief.

What exactly does Abela expect his supporters to do? Should they go on a rampage and ransack the law courts if Muscat is truly arraigned? Or is he expecting them to blow up the magistrate if she has the temerity to conclude that there are grounds for criminal action against the former PM? How would Abela react if an angry Labour supporter enters the courthouse and insults the member of the judiciary in front of who Muscat would be hypothetically appearing? Will Abela shoulder responsibility if his rhetoric instigates irrational behaviour by his supporters?

It is a shame that Abela chose to go down this road and defend Joseph Muscat by lashing out at the judiciary.

It is a shame that the Prime Minister of a democratic country is trying to torpedo the law courts by hacking away at the credibility of the judiciary in such a vicious way.

It is even more incomprehensible since Abela knows first-hand the mess he had to deal with when he took office in 2020 and Steward Healthcare were trying to renegotiate the hospitals deal.

There are three extensive reports by the Auditor General outlining the mess of a deal the Muscat administration entered into for the running of three public hospitals by private investors. The rot was evident from even before the request for proposals was issued. It only culminated in the following years when none of the agreed investments were made and to make matters worse, Muscat’s administration, gave the American company a guarantee it would receive €100 million even if the courts struck down the deal.

Fortunately, the hospitals deal and all side agreements to it were rescinded by the law courts last year.

Meanwhile, Gozitans remain without a new state of the art hospital that had been promised and St Luke’s remains largely an ageing pigeon loft.

Abela is fully aware of this mess for which Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri were chief architects. Why he should throw all caution to the wind and defend Muscat by pointing his guns at the judiciary not only defies ordinary reason but is outright diabolical.

Abela may have opted for this strategy because it suits him electorally to energise the grassroots and try to win with a stratospheric margin on 8 June even at the expense of unleashing a dangerous dog.

On a more sinister level, Abela may have chosen this path because he is beholden to criminals who have an obvious interest in seeing a judiciary that is undermined and ridiculed.

We hope the Prime Minister sees light of day and changes course.