Id-dmugħ tal-kukkudrill u l-qtil ta’ Daphne

Inkitbu numru kbir ta’ artikli dwar il-qtil ta’ Daphne nhar it-Tnejn li għadda, meta l-karozza li kienet qed issuq ġiet sploduta f’elf biċċa. Tfasslu bosta tejoriji dwar l-identità u l-motiv ta’ dawk li ppjanaw u/jew esegwew dan il-qtil. Mhux ħa nżid mal-ispekulazzjoni.

Bħal bosta oħrajn, tul is-snin jiena ukoll kelli l-possibiltà li nsegwi l-kitbiet tagħha. Bosta minnhom sibthom mill-iktar informattivi. Il-kapaċitajiet investigattivi tagħha kienu fost l-aqwa fil-ġurnaliżmu Malti. L-argumenti tagħha kienu dejjem qawwija, għalkemm il-preġudizzji tagħha dejjem kienu ċari. Kienet kapaċi talterna bejn artikli investigattivi ta’ l-għola livell ma oħrajn li jivvilifikaw lil dawk fil-mira tagħha.

L-opinjonijiet politiċi tagħha kienu dejjem ċari u hi dejjem mexxiethom ‘il quddiem b’qawwa kbira. Sa’ Ġunju 2017 injorat il-parti l-kbira tad-dnubiet tal-PN u iffukat bla ħniena fuq dawk tal-PL. Wara Ġunju 2017, kif kien jixirqilhom, poġġiethom flimkien f’qoffa waħda u b’hekk tat iktar kredibilità lil min jgħid li m’hemmx x’tagħżel bejn il-PN u l-PL.

Dwar Alternattiva Demokratika kitbet bosta drabi: kritika f’mumenti delikati fejn il-posizzjoni politika ta’ AD kienet f’kuntrast ma dik tal-PN. Drabi oħra, meta dehrilha, għamlet użu mill-fehmiet ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika kif kien jaqbel biex issaħħaħ l-argumenti tagħha.

Il-qtil tagħha hu daqqa ta’ ħarta għal-libertà tal-espressjoni f’Malta.

Kien hemm bosta opportunitajiet oħra fejn kien hemm min jipprova jagħlqiha ħalqa permezz ta’ numru esaġerat ta’ kawżi ta’ libel. Reċentement sar attentat biex permezz ta’ mekkaniżmu legali eżistenti ġew iffriżati l-kontijiet bankarji tagħha bħala garanzija għad-danni li kienu qed jintalbu. Sfortunatament il-Qrati ma irrealizzawx in-natura reali ta’ din l-azzjoni intimidatorja. L-impatt ta’ din l-azzjoni kien imxejjen biss wara li irnexxiet l-inizzjattiva ta’ crowd funding organizzata minn David Thake. B’hekk l-azzjoni intimidatorja tal-Ministru Cardona u l-konsulenti legali tiegħu kważi sfatt fix-xejn.

Adrian Delia, l-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni, li ukoll kien taħt il-lenti tagħha għal dawn l-aħħar erba’ xhur, kif jidher minn l-aħħar diskors tiegħu, qed ifittex x’vantaġġ politiku jista’ jakkwista l-partit tiegħu minn dan il-qtil. Jidher li jixtieq li ninsew li hu ukoll ta kontibut biex inġemgħu t-turrun libelli fil-konfront tagħha. Li iritirhom iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa mhu xejn għajr ipokrezija grassa.

Dan hu essenzjalment dak li hemm mistoħbi wara t-tixrid tad-dmugħ tal-kukkudrilli ta’ uħud minn dawk li qed jgħidu li huma maħsudin b’dan il-qtil.

Il-Pulizija bdew l-investigazzjonijiet tagħhom. It-talba li saret għall-għajnuna ta’ esperti barranin hi utli għax tista’ tkun l-assigurazzjoni meħtieġa biex kull indikazzjoni tkun esplorata u investigata. Imma l-investigazzjoni għal ftit ma bdietx bil-banda għax il-Maġistrat Consuelo Scerri Herrera damet ma ndunat li hemm ma kienx postha. Il-fatt li damet is-siegħat biex irrealizzat dan juri li uħud mill-membri tal-ġudikatura għad għandhom ħafna x’jitgħallmu.

Il-presenza tal-Maġistrat Scerri Herrera fil-Bidnija ħasdet lil kulħadd hekk kif waslet. Ftit wara l-ħasda kibret minħabba l-kummenti fuq Facebook ta’ surgent mit-tim investigattiv tal-Pulizja li ried jiċċelebra l-avvenimenti li kien qed jara. Il-fatt li ġie sospiż u ser jgħaddi passi dixxiplinari mhux biżżejjed. Għad hemm ħtieġa ta’ spjegazzjoni mingħand il-Kummissarju tal-Pulizja dwar il-għala xi membri tal-Korp għadhom ma rrealizzawx li l-presenza tagħhom fuq il-media soċjali hi ta’ ħsara għall-kredibilità u l-imparzjalità tagħhom u tal-Korp tal-Pulizija kollu.

Imma mid-dehra mhux is-surġent tal-Pulizija biss ħass li kellu bżonn jiċċelebra nhar it-Tnejn waranofsinnhar. X’ser jgħidulna dwar il-carcades li saru, anke jekk kienu ftit? Min ser jassumi r-responsabbiltà għalihom?

Il-Prim Ministru hu anzjuż biex il-każ jissolva malajr kemm jista’ jkun. Ilkoll għandna l-istess xewqa u iktar ma dan iseħħ malajr, aħjar għal kulħadd. Imma, meta l-każ jingħalaq ikun il-waqt li nstaqsu jekk dan kollu setax ikun evitat. Għax bla dubju seta kien evitat.

 

 

 

ippubblikat f’Illum – 22 t’Ottubru 2017

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Crocodile tears and the assassination of Daphne

Countless articles and opinions have been written about Daphne’s assassination last Monday, when the car she was driving was blown to smithereens.

Many theories have been woven as to the possible identity and motivation of those who planned and/or executed her assassination. I will not add to the speculation.

Like many others, I followed her writings through the years and found most of them informative. In the Maltese journalist community, her investigative skills were second to none. Her arguments were always very forceful even though a bias was always clearly present. She could alternate between well-written, clearly thought out and investigative articles and pure invective aimed at those she despised.

Her underlying political views were always clear and she promoted them mercilessly. Until June 2017, she ignored most of the sins of the PN and focused relentlessly on those of the PL. After June 2017 she practically lumped them both together in one basket, as they deserved, lending credence to the statement that there is nothing to distinguish the PN from the PL.

As for AD, it was one of her punching bags when it suited her, in particular at those critical political junctures where AD’s views and positions contrasted sharply with those of the PN. At other times, when she found AD’s views useful, she used them to buttress her own.

Her assassination is a direct blow against freedom of expression in Malta.

Various other attempts have been made to shut her up through the countless actions in court for civil damages. An attempt was made to cripple her financially with a legal mechanism, insisting that the claimed civil damages be deposited in Court when legal action is initiated. This was an attempt at intimidation which, unfortunately, the Law Courts did not see through. The attempt was only thwarted through the initiative of David Thake who organised crowd funding of the sums requested, thus short-circuiting the bully-boy tactics of Minister Cardona and his lawyers.

The Leader of the Opposition, Adrian Delia, having been under her spotlight for the past four months is now apparently out to milk her assassination for his party’s political gain, as is evidenced by his speeches earlier this week. He seems to want us to forget that he too was a contributor to the pile of actions for libel submitted against her. Their withdrawal this week smells of crass hypocrisy.

This is essentially the background to the crocodile tears being shed by some of those who say that they are “shocked” at her assassination.

Police investigations have commenced. Requesting help from foreign experts may ensure that all leads are followed. The investigation was almost torpedoed in its first seconds when Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera failed to realise that this was a definite no-go area for her. That she took hours to realise this, is testimony to the fact that some members of the bench still need to master much more than the law.

The Magistrate’s presence shocked all as soon as she arrived on site at Bidnija. Soon after, that shock was to be compounded by the comments posted on Facebook by a Police Sergeant from the police investigating team on his being overjoyed at the day’s happenings. The fact that he was suspended pending disciplinary action is not sufficient. It still needs to be explained by the Commissioner of Police why some members of the police force have still not realised that they should stay away from the social media as it may seriously jeopardise not only their integrity and impartiality but also that of the whole Police Corps.

Apparently, it was not only the Police Sergeant who was overjoyed on Monday afternoon. What about the few carcades which were organised? Anybody cares to assume responsibility?

The Prime Minister is very anxious to get to the bottom of all this. We all are. The sooner this is done the better. However, when this is done and dusted it would be appropriate to examine the extent to which it was avoidable. As indeed it was.

 

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 22 October 2017

Kliem Deborah Schembri tal-biki.

 

Deborah Schembri ġiet rappurtata li qalet li hemm min jiddejjaq b’dak li jinkiteb. Hemm min iweġġa’. Dak, qalet Deborah hu abbuż u mhux libertà tal-espressjoni. Iffaċċjati b’din is-sitwazzjoni u b’mod partikolari meta r-rimedji legali ma jkunux ċari, uħud, qalet Deborah Schembri jikkunsidraw li għandhom jieħdu l-liġi b’idejhom.

Imbagħad hawn min jistkanta kif jitnaqqru d-drittijiet demokratiċi.

Qatt ma hu gustifikat li xi ħadd jieħu l-liġi b’idejh. Imma meta persuna attiva fil-ħajja pubblika bħal Deborah Schembri tasal biex titkellem b’dan il-mod jintwera bic-car l-istat li fih qiegħed il-pajjiż.

Kliem Deborah Schembri m’huwiex biss perikoluz għax jista’ jkun ikkunsidrat minn uħud bħala li jiġġustifika jew jiskuża l-użu tal-vjolenza, imma hu fuq kollox irresponsabbli għax tagħti dan il-messaġġ ċar u bla tlaqlieq.

Il-libertà tal-espressjoni hi dritt fundamentali. Għandna dritt li nkunu kritiċi ta’ kollox u ta’ kulħadd. Hu ovvju li meta tikkritika ser ikun hemm min jiddarras, min jieħu għalih. Min ma jridx li jkun ikkritikat, jimxi sewwa u ftit li xejn ikun ikkritikat! Imma kulħadd hu soġġett għall-liġi kemm min joffendi kif ukoll min ikun offiż. Għax iva id-dritt tal-espressjoni tfisser ukoll id-dritt li toffendi, imma imbagħad trid terfa’ l-konsegwenzi legali ta’ egħmilek.

Ma hemmx bżonn dritt tal-espressjoni għal min ifaħħar. Għax it-tifħir ma jweġġa’ lil ħadd. Il-ħarsien tad-dritt tal-espressjoni qiegħed hemm għal min hu kritiku, b’mod partikolari kritiku ta’ dawk fil-poter kif ukoll ta’ dawk li jinċensawhom. Il-kritika bil-fors tweġġa’, ġieli ftit u ġieli ħafna. Ħafna drabi tweġġa’ għax dak magħruf minn ftit isir magħruf minn ħafna.

Id-diffikulta ta’ min jikteb, ħafna drabi, hi fejn taqta’ linja bejn dak li hu privat u dak li mhux. Mhux kull ġurnalist hu tal-istess opinjoni. Jiddependi ukoll mis-suġġett li jkun qed jiġi eżaminat.

Imma politiku li jdeffes lill-uliedu żgħar kontinwament għall-attenzjoni pubblika m’għandu l-ebda dritt li jilmenta jekk dawn jitfaċċaw ukoll taħt il-lenti, għax il-biċċa jkun ġiebha b’idejh.

L-istil ta’ min jikteb ivarja. Hemm min jikteb b’mod dirett u jsemmi l-ismijiet ta’ dak, dik u l-oħra. Hemm imbagħad min jikteb b’mod sarkastiku u jikkritika billi jgħaddi biż-żmien. Jikteb b’nofs ċajta u juża’ l-umoriżmu bħala arma li taqta’. Huma stili li jikkuntrastaw u li jogħġbu jew idejqu persuni differenti.

Din hi d-demokrazija li kontinwament qed tiżviluppa quddiemna. Ma togħġobx lil kulħadd. Tirrikjedi ġurnalisti b’kuraġġ u politiċi b’ġilda ħoxna li ma jieħdux għalihom għal kull ħaga ta’ xejn. Imma fuq kollox hi l-bażi tad-demokrazija tagħna għax bla ġurnaliżmu serju m’aħna xejn.

Il-libertà tal-espressjoni irridu ngħożżuha kuljum. L-ebda politiku li jiddubita minn dan ma jixraqlu li jissejjaħ demokratiku.

Minor footnote to 1980s talks

Much has been written about the meetings between Dom Mintoff and Guido de Marco prior to 1987 on finding ways in which to solve the constitutional crisis resulting from the 1981 perverse electoral results.

During these meetings Mintoff and de Marco undoubtedly also discussed various other matters as they considered appropriate. At one point, I too formed part of their agenda.

It was early in October 1984 and I was carrying out duties of architect and civil engineer at the then Public Works Department. Called to the office of the director, I was informed that, in view of my articles published in newspapers of the Nationalist Party, my employment was being terminated forthwith.

Being without a job was further compounded by the fact that the then Labour government had also withheld my professional warrant.

I initiated human rights proceedings claiming that my right to freedom of expression and protection from discrimination on political grounds had been breached by the Director of Public Works and his minister, Lorry Sant.

The first session of the court case was fixed for early November 1984. Witnesses were heard and submissions made.

Some time in April or May 1985, de Marco called to tell me that he had a message for me from Mintoff. My dismissal from the Public Works Department had cropped up in one of his meetings with Mintoff who had suggested that he would be prepared to take me on board as a civil engineer on the Freeport project, then under his wings and in its early stages.

However, this proposal was subject to the conditions that I had to halt legal proceedings against Sant and, in addition, I had to bind myself not to write any more articles in newspapers.

My response was a clear no.

We met a second time at the request of de Marco, presumably as Mintoff was pressing for an answer. But I did not budge. In view of my refusal, the message was relayed through two alternative routes. De Marco had asked two high-ranking PN officials to persuade me to compromise. Fortunately, they fully understood my position and did not press the matter any further.

On June 27, 1985, just weeks after receiving Mintoff’s message, the case was decided by Mr Justice Joseph Filletti. He concluded that my freedom of expression and my right not to be discriminated against on political grounds were breached by the Director of Public Works. The director, the court ruled, had to shoulder administrative responsibility for the happenings in his department on his own.

Mr Justice Filletti had exonerated the minister!

Subsequent to Mr Justice Filletti’s decision I received a phone call that a senior army officer attached to Mintoff’s office at Kalafrana wanted to speak to me.

I clearly remember that it was an August afternoon in 1985 when I called at his office. This army officer, eventually a colonel, told me that I should not count my chickens yet because, while I had a favourable first decision from the law courts, it was inevitable that it would be reversed on appeal.

He prodded me to accept Mintoff’s proposal and stop legal proceedings. I told the colonel that I had already refused the proposal and that I had no intention of changing my mind.

In the meantime, the Constitutional Court had fixed dates for hearings of the appeals submitted. I myself had submitted an appeal because, in my view, the minister should have been found responsible together with the director for breach of human rights. Proof had been submitted that the instructions for my dismissal had been issued by the minister himself.

The Constitutional Court decided the case on January 29, 1986. It concluded that Sant had, in fact, issued the instructions for my dismissal himself. It further acknowledged that proof of the minister’s direct involvement had been submitted through the evidence of various witnesses.

The Constitutional Court decided that both Sant and the director were responsible for political discrimination.

As to freedom of expression, the Constitutional Court reversed the first court’s decision and concluded that those in public employment sign away their rights of freedom of expression. By accepting public employment, the Constitutional Court held that you renounce your freedom of expression.

As it turned out, it seems that the colonel was most probably bluffing after all.

It was clear to me that Mintoff was trying to find a way out for Sant.

When my name cropped up in the de Marco-Mintoff talks it seems that I was considered as a pawn that could be easily sacrificed in the quest for the larger prize.

Fortunately, matters developed differently in this minor footnote to the de Marco/Mintoff talks.

published in The Times (Malta) 8th September 2012

Thanks O Lord for giving us DOM

After that superficial film “Dear Dom” has been showing for some time, given that a large number of Maltese citizens are shocked as to the content of the said film (how dare he) I would humbly suggest an alternative based on the following 6 points :

  1. Dom was God’s gift to Malta. We should light candles and praise the Lord for this gift.
  2. Human rights in Malta know their first pronouncement to Dom who was their most steadfast defender. The Gaddafi Prize for Human Rights is adequate recognition of the effort made!
  3. The media should thank their lucky stars that Dom was Prime Minister as he entrenched freedom of expression and completely removed the Laws of Libel. The media during his time was as free as can be.
  4. Dom led the first transparent Government in Malta: the media could ask anything, and they had the information at hand before even asking.
  5. The shareholders of the National Bank of Malta should thank their lucky stars that they had a staunch defender in Dom Mintoff. If anyone else had been Prime Minister he wouldn’t give a fuck about their rights (jigi jitnejjek mill-Kostituzzjoni). Anyone less serious would have removed their limited liability to have them face the music. But Dom, he  was no bully. He defended the hard working citizen.
  6. The civil service should thank Dom for making their period of service a memorable one. Transfers on political grounds were history during the Dom Prime Ministership. Everybody got his due. Promotions were never withheld to those who were not Labour Party lackeys. The more you were critical of Dom Mintoff and his government the more you were respected.  Dom even discriminated against Labour Party supporters to ensure that those supporting the PN and Mabel Strickland got the highest appointments in the Civil Service.

Malta : Still in the Middle Ages

‘Malta still in the middle ages’ – AD participates in anti-censorship march

 

Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party is participating in the anti-censorship march organised by the Front Against Censorship.

Michael Briguglio, AD Chairperson, said: ‘It seems though Malta has joined the European Union, in many aspects we are still in the middle ages. It is disturbing that state institutions should decide what is acceptable and what is not within the arts. This is reminiscent of dictatorial regimes – from North Korea to Iran – whose state structures aim to create a monolithic conformist identity, devoid of freedom In advanced modern societies where individuals are reflexive, such imposition from the state is unacceptable’.

‘In various respects, proposed legislation on censorship increase repression on freedom of speech. AD believes that no artistic production should be banned, provided there are clear guides such as age classification and warnings on content shown. AD is also firmly in favour of educational reforms which enhance the reflexivity and responsibility of individuals, such as the teaching of comprehensive sexual education and the values of tolerance and respect. A difference should also be made between art and the spreading of hate such as that of the neo-nazi type’.

‘If the recent decision of the Civil Court on the “Stitching” play were to be applied consistently, then, we might as well close down our film-theatres for showing films full of violence and explicit content. We might as well ban MTV for showing provocative videos and empty bookshelves for having books that are deemed “incompatible”‘.

Yvonne Arqueros Ebejer, AD spokesperson for Civil Rights, added: ‘Freedom of expression is a civil right.  It is a cornerstone of a democratic society. This right also protects opinions that shock, disturb or offend, as long as they do not incite violence or hatred. However, the right to freedom of expression has come under pressure from various sides. Greens will continue to resist attempts to compromise the right of expression, even where it may clash with religious or other beliefs.

‘AD supports the Front Against Censorship and we once again, together with the European Green Party, we express our solidarity with Mark Camilleri and Alex Vella Gera who were taken to court due to their respective roles in Realta’ newspaper’.

‘Whilst other political parties are ultimately stuck in time when it comes to freedom of expression,  Alternattiva Demokratika – the Green party is clear and consistent in its position for the modernisation of censorship laws as befits a modern democracy’.