Imnawwar minn ġewwa

Sal-ħin li qed nikteb, l-investigazzjoni interna tal-Pulizija nfirxet minn waħda iffukata fuq it-taqsima tat-traffiku għal taqsimiet oħra tal-korp. Bosta huma mnixxfa kif dawk li suppost iżommu l-ordni u jħarsu l-osservanza tal-liġi qed jiġu nvestigati huma stess dwar allegazzjionijiet ta’ abbuż minn fondi pubbliċi kif ukoll allegazzjonijiet li talbu flus biex ma jagħmlux dmirhom (speċi ta’ protection money).

Supretendent u numru ta’ uffiċjali oħra, rinfaċċjati bil-provi rreżenjaw mill-korp. Numru mhux żgħir ta’ pulizija ġew interrogati.

M’għandniex inkunu sorpriżi b’dan kollu, għax dan huwa kollu riżultat dirett ta’ kultura ta’ impunità li ġiet imxettla b’mod kontinwu mill-Partit Laburista fil-Gvern tul dawn l-aħħar snin. Xejn mhu xejn. B’xi mod jew ieħor kollox jibqa’ għaddej, jew kważi.

Il-Prim Ministru Robert Abela stqarr li l-fatt illi l-Pulizija stess qed jinvestigaw lill-pulizija li dwarhom hemm l-alegazzjonijiet huwa indikazzjoni ċara li l-istituzzjonijiet fil-pajjiż qed jaħdmu sewwa. Fil-fehma tiegħi din hi analiżi skorretta. Dak li qed jiġri trid tarah ukoll fil-kuntest tal-ħbiberija żvelata bejn dak li kien Deputat Kummissarju tal-Pulizija Silvio Valletta u Yorgen Fenech, (l-allegat mandant tal-assassinju ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia). F’dan il-kuntest, l-investigazzjoni tindika li l-korp tal-Pulizija huwa mnawwar minn ġewwa.

Fil-waqt li l-parti l-kbira tal-membri tal-korp tal-Pulizija huma persuni serji, għandu jkun sottolinejat li mhux l-ewwel darba li rriżulta li uffiċjali anzjani tal-korp tal-pulizija kienu viċin ta’ persuni li kienu taħt investigazzjoni. Kaz ieħor riċenti li niftakar hu ta’ uffiċjal imlaħħaq fit-taqsima tar-reati ekonomiċi (spettur) li kien viċin ħafna ta’ operatur fl-industrija tal-logħob tal-ażżard. Tant kien viċin tiegħu li anke kellu l-aċċess biex jutilizza karozza privata ta’ din il-persuna, Ferrari. Il-każ imur lura sal-2015 meta missier l-ispettur, kien agent Kummissarju tal-Pulizija. Għax il-każ taz-ziju Silvio ċertament mhux l-uniku wieħed.

Kien il-kandidat laburista Andy Ellul li f’artiklu ppubblikat fuq it-Times tat-28 ta’ Jannar 2020 li stqarr li “Police commissioners form part of the executive and they have to toe the electoral programme of the government of the day”. Huwa ċertament ta’ sfortuna li Andy Ellul jikkunsidra li l-pulizija għandha funzjoni politika għax l-implimentazzjoni tal-manifest elettorali hi funzjoni tal-politiċi u tagħhom biss.

Dak li qal Andy Ellul jispjega ħafna dwar meta, kif u għaliex (uħud) mill-Pulizija jaġixxu u jinvestigaw. Andy Ellul kien hu nnifsu membru tal-korp tal-pulizija u allura suppost li jaf ferm iktar minn hekk!

Meta l-Panama Papers saru materja pubblika x’investigazzjoni għamlet il-pulizija? Abbażi ta’ dak li ġie osservat min-naħa tal-uffiċċju tal-Prim Ministru f’Kastilja, il-Pulizija ġew jaqgħu u jqumu. Konrad Mizzi u Keith Schembri ma ġewx mitluba biex jerfgħu ir-responsabbiltà għall-azzjonijiet tagħhom meta waqqfu kumpaniji sigrieta fil-Panama: ħelsuha ħafif. Għaldaqstant wara dan il-messaġġ ċar li qiesu ma ġara xejn, ħadd ma għandu jkollu l-ebda dubju x’kejl kellu japplika għall-pulizija u għall kull min jagħmel affarijiet li s-soltu ma naċċettawhomx. Kien biss meta l-whistle-blower saffar li l-investigazzjoni kellha tibda. Hawn xi ħadd li jemmen li b’mod ġenwin ħadd ma nduna b’xejn? Hu ċar li bosta ħadu sehemhom u allura b’mod konvenjenti “ħadd ma nduna xejn”.

It-triq biex tissewwa l-ħsara li saret lir-reputazzjoni li Malta kisbet illum il-ġurnata mhix triq faċli. Li tkun stabilita mill-ġdid il-fiduċja fil-korp tal-Pulizija hu pass wieħed żgħir minn ħafna meħtieġa.

Malta bil-mod qed tiġi trasformata f’soċjeta amorali fejn il-prinċipji aċċettabbli ta’ imġieba korretta qed jintremew il-baħar. Hemm min jiddieħaq bihom ukoll.

Rappresentanti tas-settur tas-servizzi finanzjarji qalulna li hemm bżonn is-sehem ta’ kulħadd biex naslu li nnaddfu isem Malta mill-ġdid. Huwa ftit diffiċli biex wieħed jifhem kif nistgħu naslu meta hu ċar għal kulħadd li l-korp tal-Pulizija hu mnawwar minn ġewwa.

 

ippubblikat fuq Illum : 16 ta’ Frar 2020

Rotten to the core

At the time of writing, the Police internal investigation has widened from one focused on the traffic section to other police units. Many are shocked that the upholders of law and order are themselves under investigation in respect of allegations on the fraudulent use of public funds as well as the allegation of being in receipt of protection money.

Faced with the available evidence, a Superintendent – as well as a number of other police officers – has resigned. It is reported that substantial number of officers were interrogated, with some being released on police bail.

I am not at all surprised because, in my view, this is the direct consequence of the culture of impunity which the Labour Party in government has continuously nurtured for the past six years during which it has been in office.

Prime Minister Robert Abela has stated that the fact that the police are investigating their own is, in itself, an indicator that the institutions are functioning properly. His assessment is, in my view, incorrect. Together with the revelations regarding the close friendship of former Police Deputy Commissioner Silvio Valletta and Yorgen Fenech, (the suspected mastermind of Daphne’s assassination), the police investigation is more of an indication that a section of the Police Force may be rotten to the core.

While most of the members of the Police Force are beyond reproach, it has to be underlined that this is not the first instance, in recent years, when senior police officers were reported as being too close to people under investigation. A specific case that comes to mind is that of a senior police officer in the Economic Crimes unit who was so close to an operator in the gaming industry – then under investigation – that it was then reported in the media that he had access to, and made use of, the operator’s private vehicle, a Ferrari. The case goes back to 2015. Uncle Silvio’s case is definitely not a one-off.

It was Labour Party candidate Andy Ellul who, in an opinion published in The Times on 28 January 2020 stated that “Police commissioners form part of the executive and they have to toe the electoral programme of the government of the day”. It is indeed unfortunate that Andy Ellul considers that the police have a political function, as the implementation of the electoral programme is the exclusive function of holders of political office.

Andy Ellul’s utterances explain quite a lot as to when, how and why (some of) the police act and investigate. Andy Ellul, a former policeman himself, certainly knows much better than that!

When the Panama Papers revelations hit the headlines what investigations were carried out by the Police? Taking the cue from the Office of the Prime Minister at Castille the Police were not bothered. If Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri can get away with shouldering responsibility for their actions through the setting up of secret companies in Panama, one should not wonder as to the yardstick applied to misdemeanours of some of the members of the Police Force. It was only when the whistle-blower sounded the alarm that matters took a new direction on the allegations relative to police in the Traffic Section and beyond.

Repairing Malta’s reputation is not an easy task and restoring confidence in the Police Force is only one small step of the many required. Our country is being slowly transformed into an amoral society in which principles of ethical behaviour are being scourned and thrown overboard.

We have been told by representatives of the financial services sector that we need all hands on deck to repair Malta’s reputation. It is difficult to comprehend how this can commence in earnest when key elements of the Police Force are rotten to the core.

 

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 16 February 2020

Il-mobile tal-Kasco u l-ingwanti tal-Pulizija

L-investigazzjoni li l-Pulizija qed tmexxi dwar l-assassinju ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia, iktar ma jgħaddi żmien iktar qed jidher li hi investgazzjoni tad-dilettanti.

Illum jidher iktar ċar għax kemm Chris Fearne kif ukoll Robert Abela diġa esprimew ruħhom negattivament kontra l-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija u t-tnejn li huma jriduh iwarrab, illum qabel għada.

Fl-investigazzjonijiet tagħhom il-Pulizija riedu aċċess għall-mobile ta’ Keith Schembri, l-Kasco, ovvjament biex jaraw x’telefonati u messaġġi saru minnu u kif dawn jinkwadraw fil-bqija tal-investigazzjoni. Imma dan qallhom li kien tilfu!

Normalment meta l-Pulizija jkunu għaddejjn b’investigazzjoni ta’ kriminali “komuni” dawn il-mobiles malajr isibuhom anzi jkunu jafu ezatt fejn qegħdin għax ikunu ilhom isegwuhom!

S’issa l-mobile tal-Kasco għadu ma nstabx!

Rapporti dwar ix-xhieda tal-Pulizija fil-Qorti illum jindikaw ukoll li l-uffiċċju ta’ Keith Schembri f’Kastilja ma kienx issiġillat mill-ewwel biex ikunu ppriservati xi provi jew traċċi oħra .

Qalulna ukoll li meta l-Pulizija talbuh il-password biex jeżaminaw l-emails tiegħu Keith Schembri irrifjuta. U qiesu ma ġara xejn!

B’dawn l-iżbalji kollha fl-investigazzjoni (jekk wara kollox huma żbalji) bil-fors tistaqsi: il-Pulizija inkompetenti jew kompliċi?

Għalfejn qed jimxu bl-ingwanti ma’ Keith Schembri?

L-istituzzjonijiet qed jaħdmu, qalilna Owen Bonnici

Wara l-laqgħa tal-Kabinett tal-Ħamis fil-għaxija, li baqgħet għaddejja sa sbieħ il-Gimgħa, żewġ Ministri tkellmu dwar dak li kien għaddej.

Il-Ministri kienu imnixxfa jisimgħu lill-Avukat Ġenerali u lill-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija jispjegaw dak li kien għaddej. “We were shocked” qalu lill-gazzetti.

Il-Ministri ma setgħux jifhmu kif u għaliex Keith Schembri nħeles mill-arrest, u dan wara li semgħu rapport dettaljat. Il-Ministri talbu iktar spjegazzjonijiet. Imma mir-rabja kbira li tidher fir-rapporti ma jidhirx li kienu sodisfatti mill-ispjegazzjonijiet li nagħtaw.

Imbagħad jiġi Owen Bonnici jgħid li l-istituzzjonijiet qed jaħdmu!

Żomm ‘il-bogħod mill-investigazzjoni

Il-familja Caruana Galizia għandha raġun li tinsisti illi l-Prim Ministru Joseph Muscat jeħtieg li jżomm ‘il-bogħod mill-investigazzjoni kriminali dwar l-assassinju ta’ Daphne.

Il-kummentarju kontinwu tal-Prim Ministru Joseph Muscat dwar l-investigazzjoni kriminali għandha tinkwetana ilkoll.

Matul din il-ġimgħa huwa għamel numru ta’ dikjarazzjonijiet inkwetanti li jindikaw bl-iktar mod ċar illi kien qed ikun infurmat b’mod immedjat dwar dak li jkun għaddej waqt l-interrogazzjonijiet.

Dan hu aġir abbużiv u jista’ jkollu konsegwenzi gravi, inkluż t-tħarbit tal-investigazzjoni nnifisha.

Ġejna nfurmati minn Joseph Muscat li l-informazzjoni li wasslet għall-arrest ta’ Yorgen Fenech ma ġietx mill-intermedjarju imma li l-Pulizija kienu ilhom li waslu għaliha. Infurmana ukoll li l-intermedjarju għadu ma svelax biżżejjed informazzjoni. Biżżejjed jiġifieri, biex din l-informazzjoni tkun tista’ twassal ħalli l-investigazzjoni tkun konkluża u dawk kollha responsabbli għall-ippjanar u l-esekuzzjoni tal-assassinju ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia jkun possibli li kollha kemm huma jieħdu dak li ħaqqhom.

Iktar kmieni, huwa u jwieġeb mistoqsija ta’ ġurnalista, Joseph Muscat żvela li “s’issa”, l-ebda politiku ma kien identifikat bħala “persuna li hi ta’ interess” għall-investigazzjoni kriminali. Din bla dubju żelqitlu. Probabbilment hu nkwetat li din il-possibilità tista’ titfaċċa iktar tard meta l-investigazzjoni tkun żviluppat ftit ieħor. Jittama li dan ma jseħħx. Imma l-movimenti tiegħu (body language) iwasslu messaġġ iktar qawwi minn kliemu dwar din il-possibilità.

Muscat qal li jaf ferm iktar minn dak li qal sa issa, imma li qagħad lura għal dawn l-aħħar 24 xahar. Għamel sforz kbir mid-dehra, probabbilment għax hekk kien jaqbillu.

Min hu inkarigat mill-interrogazzjonijiet fil-Kwartieri Ġenerali tal-Pulizija: il-Kummissarju Lawrence Cutajar jew il-Kummissarju Joseph Muscat?

Diversi mezzi tal-aħbarijiet qed jiżvelaw biċċiet ta’ informazzjoni li qed jindikaw illi l-intermedjarju huwa s-sors potenzjali ta’ minjiera ta’ informazzjoni addizzionali ta’ importanza kbira li tista’ tissiġilla l-każ. Dan jidher li ftit ser iħalli possibiltajiet lil min ikun jixtieq jilgħab.

Bħala riżultat ta’ dan, il-Pulizija issa ma tantx baqagħalhom skużi biex jimxu bil-mod. Għax kif tista’ tispjega dak li qed jgħid il-Prim Ministru li qabel ma tfaċċa l-intermedjarju l-kaz kien diġa ċar għall-investigaturi meta huwa issa, wara dan iż-żmien kollu li bdew jiċċaqalqu ftit biex joqorbu lejn konklużjoni tal-kaz?

Dan il-punt jagħmlu ukoll Pieter Omtzigt, ir-rapporteur tal-Kunsill tal-Ewropa dwar l-assassinju ta’ Daphne li ġie ikkwotat jgħid li “Għaliex ix-xhieda tal-intermedjarju l-ewwel tiġġustifika l-proklama imbagħad il-Prim Ministru jgħid li din ma kienitx meħtieġa biex ikun arrestat Fenech?” Din l-osservazzjoni ta’ Omtzigt hi konklużjoni loġika u inevitabbli li tasal għaliha wara li tgħarbel dak li qal il-Prim Ministru li appunta lilu innifsu bħala l-kelliem għall-investigaturi.

Il-Prim Ministru għandu l-obbligu li jassigura illi l-investigazzjoni tkun imħarsa u mhux imfixkla. F’dan il-mument, bħala riżultat tal-interventi pubbliċi tiegħu dwar l-investigazzjoni, huwa l-ikbar theddida biex l-investigazzjoni tkun imfixkla f’xogħolha.

Dan kollu jwassal għal mistoqsija waħda: lil min qed jipprova iħares?

Hu possibli li qed iħares l-interessi tiegħu stess, jekk mhux ukoll ta’ dawk ta’ madwaru li wħud minnhom jidhru inkwetati sew. F’investigazzjoni normali u bla tfixkil dawk kollha li Daphne kitbet dwarhom huma l-ewwel suspettati li jeħtieg li jkun investigati.

Għalhekk, sur Prim Ministru, żomm il-bogħod mill-investigazzjoni.

ippubblikat fuq Illum : Il-Ħadd 24 ta’ Novembru 2019

 

Hands off the investigation

The Caruana-Galizia family is right to  insist that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat should keep his distance from the criminal investigation into the assassination of Daphne.

We should be very worried about Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s running commentary on this investigation. This week he made a number of worrying declarations which clearly indicate that he is being informed in real time regarding the proceedings in the police interrogation rooms. This is downright abusive and could have very serious consequences, including the derailing of the investigation.

We were informed by Joseph Muscat that the information that led to the arrest of Yorgen Fenech did not come from the middleman. He further informed us that the middleman has not yet revealed enough information – enough, that is, to conclude the investigation and arraign all those responsible for master-minding and carrying out the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Earlier, in answer to a journalist’s question, he had revealed that “so far” no political person has been identified as a “person of interest” to the criminal investigation. Is this a Freudian slip? Most probably he is worried about the distinct possibility that such an identification could materialise later – when the investigation has matured sufficiently -and he is keeping his fingers crossed. His body language says much more than the words he uttered.

Muscat said that he knows much more, but that he has been keeping back from revealing everything for the past 24 months. Apparently, he has made quite an effort to keep his mouth shut – most probably because it suited him.

Who is in charge in the interrogation rooms at the Floriana Police Headquarters? Why has the Commissioner of Police relinquished his lead of the Police Corps? Is it Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar or is it Commissioner Joseph Muscat who is in charge of the Police and in particular its criminal investigation on Daphne’s assassination?

Various media outlets are revealing titbits of information which seem to indicate that the identification of the middleman as a potential source of additional information of considerable importance seems to have placed the police authorities in a very tight corner. As a result, the Police have no option but to now proceed at a very fast pace. How could one otherwise explain the Prime Minister’s emphasising that the Police authorities already had a solid case before the advent of the middleman?

This is a point also made by Pieter Omtzigt, the Council of Europe rapporteur for the Daphne assassination, who was quoted as saying: “Why was (the middleman’s) evidence worth a pardon one day, only for the PM to then say it was not needed for Fenech’s arrest?” This Omtzigt quote is the logical conclusion to which one inevitably arrives after digesting the Prime Minister’s interventions as the self-appointed spokesman for the police investigators! The Prime Minister has a duty to ensure that the investigation is not derailed, but at this point in time – as a result of his public interventions regarding the investigation – he is the greatest threat to this happening. This leads to one simple question: whom is he trying to shield?

He could be shielding even himself, if not the obvious ones close to him. In any normal unfettered police investigation, all those about whom Daphne wrote would be suspects from the outset.

Hands off the investigation.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 24 November 2019

Commissioner Muscat reporting

We should be very worried about Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s running commentary on the investigation into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination. During the week he made a number of worrying declarations which clearly indicate that he is being informed in real time as to the proceedings in the police interrogation rooms. This is downright abusive and could have very serious consequences.

We were informed by Joseph Muscat that the information that led to the arrest of Yorgen Fenech did not come from the middleman. He further informed us that the middleman, has not revealed enough information yet. Enough, that is to conclude the investigation and arraign those responsible for master-minding the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Earlier, in answer to a journalist’s question, he had revealed that no political persons are currently identified as “persons of interest”, so far. A Freudian slip? Maybe he thinks that that there is the possibility that such an identification could crop up later when the investigation has matured? Well he stated that he knows much more, but that he has been keeping back from revealing all for the past twenty-four months. Apparently, he has made quite an effort to keep his mouth shut.

Who is in charge in the interrogation room at Police Headquarters? Why has the Commissioner of Police relinquished his lead of the Police Corps? Is it Commissioner Cutajar or is it Commissioner Muscat who is in charge of the Police?

Now where was it that the policeman and the politician merged into one?

It-tigra taċ-Ċaqnu sparixxiet?

Għax hekk bil-fors taħseb meta taqra s-sentenza tal-Maġistrat Mifsud li l-ġimgħa l-oħra illibera liċ-Ċaqnu mill-akkuża li kellu zoo illegali fil-kumpless Montekristo fil-limiti ta’ Ħal-Farruġ.

Dan minkejja li kulħadd jaf mhux biss biz-zoo illegali, imma ukoll bit-tigra li għamlet għal tifel u weġġgħetu serjament.

Fis-sentenza taghha l-Qorti qalet hekk :
“Il-Prosekuzzjoni f’dan il-kaz naqset li tipproduci lista tal-annimali li seta’ kien hemm fil-lok in kwistjoni fil-jum tal-incident. Lanqas fil-Proces Verbal esebit f’dawn l-atti ma tinstab lista ta’ annimali li kien hemm jekk kien hemm f’dak il-jum. Fil-process kollu l-Qorti sabet ritratti biss ta’ annimal wiehed u li jidher li hija tigra. Allura kif xi hadd jippretendi lil din il-Qorti issib lil xi hadd hati li zamm zoo meta min investiga hadd ma ndenja ruhu jaghmel lista tal-annimali li kien hemm, jekk kien hemm, biex ikun ippruvat li kien hemm zoo skont id-definizzjoni tal-ligi?”

Il-fatt li l-Pulizija ma ippreżentatx provi għandu jħassibna ħafna. Iktar u iktar meta nafu li ċ-Ċaqnu għandu l-fama li jipprova jagħmel li jrid. Ħafna drabi jirnexxielu għax min għandu l-obbligu li jwaqqfu ma jagħmel xejn.

Ma nafx jekk dan kienx kaz ta’ negligenza mill-Pulizija inkella jekk hemmx spjegazzjoni oħra, agħar minn hekk. Nittama li l-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija isib il-ħin biex jinvestiga lill-Pulizja li għamlu din il-froġa u wara jiehu l-passi li jirriżultaw meħtieġa.

Għax it-tigra taċ-Ċaqnu ma sparixxietx. Huma l-pulizija li qed jisparixxu, ftit ftit.

L-inċident fil-kamra tan-nar fis-Salini: dmugħ tal-kukkudrilli

 

L-inċident tal-kamra tan-nar tas-Salini għadu fl-aħbarijiet, mhux biss għax għad hemm il-possibilitá ta’ murtali li ma splodewx li jistgħu jkunu is-sors ta’ periklu. Imma ukoll għax għad hemm in-nies l-isptar, uħud fil-periklu li jitilfu ħajjithom. Fil-ħin li qed nikteb qed titħabbar il-mewt ta’ wieħed minn dawk imweġġgħin gravi.

L-inkjesti għaddejjin u f’xi stadju jkollna rakkomandazzjonijiet dwar x’jeħtieġ li jsir biex ikunu evitati dawn l-inċidenti. Imbagħad ikunu hemm ħafna dmugħ tal-kukkudrilli dwar il-ħtieġa li jittieħdu passi biex tiżdied is-siġurtá.

Tajjeb f’dan il-kuntest li niftakru li ftit ġimgħat ilu l-Qorti tal-Appell, dwar kawża li saret mill-komunitá rurali taż-Żebbiegħ tletin sena ilu, ħassret permess ta’ kamra tan-nar fiż-Żebbiegħ, u dan minħabba li ma kienitx tosserva d-distanzi minimi meħtieġa mill-liġi.

Sfortunatament din id-deċiżjoni tal-Qorti ġiet newtralizzata, għax il-Parlament Malti, bi qbil unanimu, emenda l-liġi biex jagħti lill-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija l-awtoritá li jkun jista’ joħroġ il-permess għall-kamra tan-nar xorta waħda, minkejja li l-qisien minimi ma jkunux osservati.

Hi ipokrezija grassa li, fost dawk li l-iktar marru malajr is-Salini jxerrdu d-dmugħ tal-kukkudrilli, kien hemm dawk li mexxew il-quddiem malajr malajr il-liġi li tagħmilha possibli li l-kmamar tan-nar ikunu iktar viċin in-nies, bil-periklu b’kollox.

Issa, l-qisien minimi kif inhuma, waħedhom m’humiex biżżejjed biex jipproteġu n-nies. Aħseb u ara jekk tagħmilha possibli li dawn jonqsu.

Parliament moves the goalposts in support of fireworks lobby

On Friday, 26 January 2018, Malta’s Court of Appeal delivered judgement on a fireworks factory law suit which had originally been presented way back in 1989. The Court of Appeal accepted the requests of the plaintiffs (the rural community) and declared the building permit for a fireworks factory at iż-Żebbiegħ null and void.

The wheels of justice grind slowly, very slowly, we are told: 30 years in fact. Unfortunately, the wheels of injustice are too fast.

Fast-forward two months to March 2018: Parliament debates and approves amendments to the Explosives Ordinance, consequently removing the legal requirements as a result of which the Court of Appeal declared the permit for the Żebbiegħ fireworks factory null and void. Malta’s Parliament is of course very respectful of the rule of law, to the extent that if a powerful lobby falls foul of the law, the law is changed as quickly as possible thereby ensuring that after all, it is possible to be in full alignment with the law.

Parliament has caved-in to the demands of the fireworks lobby and restored its privileged status of being above the law. As a result, Parliament has set aside the expectations of the Żebbiegħ rural community which, for 30 years, has been battling against the Maltese state to ensure that the rule of law prevails.

As a result of the amendments just approved, Parliament has granted the Commissioner of Police the discretion to consider issuing a licence for a fireworks factory when this is closer that the minimum distance prescribed by law – which is 183 metres. Parliament has decided to give the Commissioner of Police this additional authority which he can apply “after giving due consideration to the exigencies of public safety”. Among those MPs accepting the granting of such additional authority to the Commissioner of Police where those who, until a few days ago were insisting that he should resign.

Parliament rushed legislation through practically all its stages on the 20 March 2018. The minutes of the Parliamentary session do not indicate a single Member of Parliament standing up to the fireworks lobby and its Ministerial lackeys. None of the 67 MPs stood up for the Żebbiegħ rural community: they preferred to protect the operation of fireworks factories instead.

It would be more appropriate if Parliament were to start debating the Vella report presented by the Commission of Inquiry headed by Professor Alfred Vella some years ago [Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Accidents in Fireworks Factories]. The 97- page report, published on 11 November 2011, contained a list of 24 recommendations, most of which dealing with the required quality of the materials used in the local manufacture of fireworks. Apparently a discussion on these conclusions is not a priority for the time being. Such a discussion seems to have been shelved until the next deadly fireworks accident.

Then maybe another inquiry and another report would be produced. Another smokescreen.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 6 May 2018