Three months - Kristina Chetcuti

The Artful DodgerThe Artful Dodger

Next Tuesday it will be three months since the assassination of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Three months down the line we are still in limbo as to the answer we desperately need to know that justice is done: who commissioned the killing?

Three people have been arraigned and accused of plotting and committing the cold-blooded assassination, which is, of course, commendable. There is no place in society for people who allegedly tell their girlfriends to open a bottle of booze to celebrate when they explode someone up, except behind the bars.

But as we all know, these three arraigned people are unemployed yet live a life not unlike a soap opera: yachts, independent schools for their children, the works – luxury expenses which no relief bonus can ever afford.

Therefore, it is highly unlikely that they woke up one day, scratched their balls and said, “We fancy killin’ some’un these days”. Dirty work is usually carried out for financial remuneration. And so, my question is: if the FBI have managed to unravel the complex triangulation affair, tracing mobile phones under the seabed and what not, then surely they would be able to trace who gave the order?

Until we have the answer to this question, “the dark cloud” over Malta, as the President described it earlier this week, won’t pass. Although, in my view, when addressing the diplomatic corps, the President failed to address why “the horrendous murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia caused great distress to all people of goodwill”.

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca needed to say that Caruana Galizia was a journalist working on corruption stories in which people in the highest echelons of Maltese authority – including the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff - were directly implicated. And this is the reason why “the brutal crime” did not just bring about a “dark cloud over Malta” but over all of the western world. It is the reason why she was honoured by mafia-fighter Roberto Saviano, and why earlier this week actress Meryl Streep referred to her during an interview with Christiane Amanpour while talking about her upcoming movie The Post which tackles media gagging.

And maybe President Coleiro Preca needs to realise that the assassination does “reflect the Maltese spirit” if it indicates that we are happy to close an eye to corruption. And it should be her prime concern as President of Malta to ensure that this country’s soul does not keep rotting.

Perhaps what we are failing to realise is that October 16 was an injustice towards the whole of our society – not because it has overshadowed our illustrious economy but because our children are growing up in society which values only money.

Anyone who knows their Dickens, knows that there is nothing to laugh about being called the Artful Dodger

Three months on, instead of being shaken to the core, interest in any sort of justice is waning. People just want to be “positive”.

At this point, if someone mentions that word to me again I’ll get a megaphone and start screaming: is there anything positive about corruption?

Is there anything positive about watching your own Prime Minister being grilled on BBC’s investigative programme Newsnight saying things like “I don’t think you can hide €1 million. I don’t think you can hide €100.” How could he have said that with a seemingly straight face when his closest government aides, Mizzi and Schembri, set up a secret company in Panama to hide kickbacks behind our backs?

How can we be positive when the Prime Minister himself  is resisting a court investigation that would acquit him once and for all if he were truly saying the truth?

It’s like democracy is under threat from all corners and all we do is shrug. During Newsnight, the Prime Minister said that Daphne’s assassination reflected badly on him. Has it, in Malta?  His trust rating has actually gone up.

Multi-million equipment in three hospitals has been sold off to a private company for €1, and we say “Oh, okay”. The company – Vitals Global Healthcare – is a completely unknown healthcare company registered in the British Virgin Islands and whose ultimate beneficial owner is unknown, and we say “Oh okay”. A minister says that there’s nothing wrong with praising an official with criminal record including domestic abuse, and we say “Oh, Okay”.

Perhaps no wonder Newsnight’s investigative journalist John Sweeney called the Prime Minister the Artful Dodger. The Prime Minister chortled, but anyone who knows their Dickens, knows that there is nothing to laugh about.

The Artful Dodger, a character in Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist, was a pickpocket, leader of the gang of (child) criminals, who earned his nickname for his skill and cunning.

In the novel, Artful Dodger chose to consider himself a ‘victim of society’, roaring in the courtroom, “I am an Englishman; where are my privileges?”

The judge, however, sees through him and has little patience for the Dodger’s posturing, and orders him out of the courtroom immediately after the jury convicts him of the theft.

Writes Dickens: “With these last words, the Dodger suffered himself to be led off by the collar, threatening, till he got into the yard, to make a parliamentary business of it, and then grinning in the officer’s face, with great glee and self-approval.”

Twitter: @krischetcuti

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