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Guillotine politics - Albert Buttigieg

Joseph-Ignace Guillotine designed the guillotine, a mechanism which carries out executions by decapitation. This macabre contraption was notorious during the French Revolution.

Thousands were decapitated, inclu-ding King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. Paradoxically, even Robespierre and Danton, both ardent revolutionary leaders, ended up at the guillotine.

Though this ghastly machine eventually stopped being used, various people, particularly politicians, still face decapitation today, metaphorically speaking, that is.

A systematic campaign is being engineered for the former Nationalist Party leader to be politically decapitated. Some are baying for Simon Busuttil’s immediate resignation from any political office.

Those who are zealously calling for his demise are basing their demand on the publication, in part, of Magistrate Bugeja’s Egrant inquiry report. According to Bugeja, the accusations were unjustified, while the supporting documentation seemed to have been fabricated and concocted.

If one were to accept these conclusions, they would be appalling and would need to be tardily investigated further.

My reservation is not on the magistrate’s integrity but that we – Maltese citizens – are only privy to what has been published so far from what was a voluminous inquiry.

Adrian Delia is correct in requesting the entire report be published. The publication of the whole inquiry ought not to be based solely on the Prime Minister’s benevolence.

If a redacted version were published, would it be like the heavily redacted publication regarding private hospitals? Would the Prime Minister redact any compromising information that might incriminate him or others?

We demand to know the whole story. It is ironic that the government has lately amended the law outlining censorship only to take the Big Brother approach itself.

How are we going to be assured that all documentation is preserved and made available, in view of the fact that the Prime Minister and the police took their jolly time to commence investigations?

It is only after going through the whole report that one can really be certain, without jumping the gun. Other related magisterial inquiries are in the process.

Notwithstanding all this, the million-dollar query remains unanswered. If Egrant doesn’t belong to Muscat and co, then to whom does it belong? If it’s not Muscat’s, then who owns Egrant?

This is the crux of the issue. Anything besides this is a tactful distraction.

The magistrate failed to pinpoint the ultimate beneficial owner, whose UBO was classified enough to compel the Nexia BT buddy to reveal details by voice rather than by e-mail. He also failed to identify who apparently forged the allegedly incriminating documents.

What is certain though is that Hearnville and Tillgate, both set up by Nexia BT concurrently with Egrant, are owned by no other than the Prime Minister’s right hand, Keith Schembri, and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi. 

Accusing Simon Busuttil of high treason against the nation is not only medieval but democratically dangerous

This is the stark and indisputable truth.

No crocodile tears, landslide victory or party spin will exonerate the Prime Minister’s failure to take convincing action against Schembri and Mizzi to shoulder political responsibility.

Saying that Schembri is not a political figure is insulting. We all know that the man is behind the throne. So it is quite rich coming from Muscat to demand Busuttil’s political decapitation when he himself failed to act. If Muscat wants to be credible he needs to apply the same standards and yardstick.

Anything less than this is just sheer hypocrisy and gloss for the blinkers.

It is good to recall then that the Egrant saga can never be taken in isolation.

It was within this unsettling disclosure of facts, an everlasting list of other scandals, the insolence of the Prime Minister and the unwillingness of the police to act on leaked money-laundering reports that the accusations were levelled.

Muscat’s deafening silence and cynicism gave further credibility to possible links between Egrant and himself. No Opposition leader would have remained indifferent and ignored the levelled indictments.

In hindsight, one can argue that Busuttil may have made an error of political judgement. We are all brave in hindsight.

Alfred Sant (abetted by Joseph Muscat) made a gross political miscalculation when the latter proposed the EU partnership. He went as far as to declare that the partnership proposal had won the referendum.

Did Sant resign, knowing that if we missed the EU bus our national fortunes would be jeopardised?

Did Muscat resign when he vehemently accused various former ministers, which accusations turned out to be untrue?

Did someone resign over Beppe Fenech Adami’s swimming pool size, even though he was undergoing medical treatment? 

True to his character, Busuttil assumed political responsibility and resigned as leader. He paid the ultimate price that any democratic politician leader could pay. 

Will others follow his example?

Orchestrating a character assassination and accusing him of “destabilising the nation” is taking a leaf out of Erdogan’s autocratic notebook. If Muscat and company feel aggravated, they have the right by law to sue for defamation.

Accusing Simon Busuttil of high treason against the nation is not only medieval but democratically dangerous.

Muscat is not the nation, and the nation has not yet morphed into Muscat.

I firmly reject the logic of guillotine politics. Retribution and vengeance are not and ought not to be part of our democratic journey. As is written, “Those who kill by the sword, will perish by the sword.”

Ask Robespierre and Danton about it.

Albert Buttigieg is deputy mayor of St Julian’s.

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