Guns blazing, Muscat tells Caruana Galizia inquiry: ‘You failed miserably’

Blunt statement from former prime minister Joseph Muscat berates Caruana Galizia inquiry for selective approach and questions based on ‘curiosity and gossip’

Former PM Joseph Muscat
Former PM Joseph Muscat

Former prime minister Joseph Muscat entered a courtroom that was to grill him, with all guns blazing.

In a blunt statement presented to the inquiry board which he as prime minister had green-lighted in agreement with the Caruana Galizia family, Muscat employed the full force of his political rhetoric and sense of theatre to hold up the judges and family lawyers to a harsh light.

“With all due respect, I have to say that from what I learnt through the media covering the proceedings, most witnesses, questions and inquiries had little to do with these Terms of Reference, and were of little assistance in the fulfillment of your role,” he started, as read the terms of reference to them.

“Frankly, the direction taken by this Inquiry resembles more an exercise in curiosity that reduced its credibility and undermined the legitimacy of such important work.

“In the best of cases, what was heard had the scope of seeing whether Daphne Caruana Galizia was right or wrong in some of the things she wrote. This is a legitimate exercise but it is not part of the Terms of Reference. In the worst of cases, this Inquiry has deteriorated into a political exercise.”

The former PM said he would not “satisfy curiosities or to gossip.”

“At the cost of not being in your good books, I must say that besides in substance, even the form of this Inquiry left a lot to be desired…         You seem to be reading out questions, at least part of which have been formulated by third parties. In fact, according to media reports, in one sitting you remarked that there are questions which are not pertinent.”

Muscat said it should have been the State, not the Labour government, to be investigated – that is, not just the post-2013 administration, whose governance shortcomings he inherited but did little to address. “If anything, the sitting government elected in 2013 was the one which most implemented positive changes,” he boasted.

“The actions of previous governments were not minimally scrutinised even though if you found any relevance in some of the things that were said, you would have had a lot to report about on what happened prior to 2013. Thus, the 2013 arbitrary deadline goes against the grain of the more ample attitude used elsewhere.”

He said even MPs and members of the judiciary were left out of the inquiry’s inquisition. “Daphne Caruana Galizia was deeply critical of the Opposition in her writings especially during the last six months of writing, focusing almost exclusively on this. What type of scrutiny was this crucial part of the legislative arm subject to? How come all her writings in this regard were not scrutinised as in the case of government? Let me remind you that in her writing were accusations of corruption, money laundering and abuses. The reason why all this was was not duly investigated escapes me.”

And then he turned to the judges, for the people he faced – Michael Mallia, Abigail Lofaro and chief justice emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino – were all appointed by the political favour of former administrations. “You worked and even presided the judiciary within this context and were in a perfect place to analyse this part of the State since the days when the Council of Europe defined it as ‘an all-in-the-family jamboree’, with the Chief Justice being the minister’s brother, and the members of the judiciary coming from the ministers’ private legal offices. You remember well those days.”

Muscat even alluded to media entities – “which I dare say are institutions in this sector” – who had also played a role, “from commercial ties to more intricate ones”, in the analysis of this scenario.

Instead the former Labour leader punched holes in the inquiry’s progress so by saying it had failed to determine any omission by the State that could have facilitated the assassination.

“To be clear, I had no information that Daphne Caruana Galizia’s life was in danger, and nobody made any statement to that effect. Moreover, I am not informed that any State entity was aware of such, let alone facilitated or could have prevented.”

He said Caruana Galizia herself refused police protection, even though as testified by former Police Commissioner John Rizzo, Muscat’s first telephone call was to take all the necessary steps to have her and her family protected.

He took credit for having solved the one bomb case of 140 in the last 40 years. “In only this single case were the alleged executors and the alleged mastermind arraigned, and the Police said it is still following other leads. Impunity occurred in the 139 other cases where nobody was arraigned, let alone found guilty, and where no public inquiries were held.”

Muscat once again reminded the inquiry of his having filed just three ourt actions in the years he fenced off criticism of all kinds. His most famous would be the request for a magisterial inquiry into the Egrant affair – which he said was a lie fed to Caruana Galizia in an attempt to destabilize the country.

“Egrant was the great absentee from this Inquiry. What was probably the story which was most stressed upon ever, has now been totally ignored since it does not fit the narrative.

“This happened despite the fact that even before being published, and while it was still being whispered in the ears by the then leader of the Opposition during dinner parties, it had a fundamental role in the attitude and decisions I took on third parties.”

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