Exactly who do Karmenu Vella and Johnny Dalli think they’re fooling?
They rang into Bondiplus last night to point out that they were not prosecuted for smuggling but for taking their yachts straight to Mellieha when they entered Maltese waters, and mooring them overnight at the Tunny Net without informing port control (“it-turretta”).
They’re claiming that this was an oversight, that they didn’t know you had to inform port control.
What rubbish. These were yacht-owners. It is inconceivable that they didn’t know the law – that it was illegal to make straight for any harbour when entering Maltese waters without first informing port control so that your vessel could be searched by customs officers.
It is inconceivable, too, that these two yacht-owners didn’t know it was illegal to moor overnight in sundry bays, and that you were obliged to return your boat to its registered official berth by sundown.
Even I knew that in 1983, and I was 18 and didn’t have a boat. Implementation of this particular law was so harsh that patrol boats would do the rounds to check the bays, not that their job was onerous because in those days the only people who had boats were bazuzli and cabinet ministers.
Vella and Dalli made much of the fact that they were only prosecuted for breaking the law on informing port control of their movements, that they were not prosecuted for smuggling.
That’s it: they were not prosecuted for smuggling, so they can’t say that they weren’t found guilty of smuggling, which isn’t the same thing at all.
What police inspector in 1983 would have been insane enough to insist with his superiors on prosecuting a cabinet minister and a government MP for smuggling, even if he wanted to do so in the first place?
Prosecuting them for not informing port control was a compromise, a mere sop to the general anger when In-Nazzjon broke the news of the scandal. For yes, it was a scandal. I remember everyone talking about it furiously.
The fact remains that Johnny Dalli and Karmenu Vella put in straight to Ghadira from Sicily, moored off the Tunny Net and were seen – by people who rang In-Nazzjon – unloading crates and boxes, taking some of them into the Tunny Net and loading others into waiting taxis and other cars.
Karmenu Vella rang Bondiplus last night to insist that it was he who ‘reported it’ to the police. He must think that everyone is as dumb as those people who sat and listened to his Mintoffian, patronising speech at the Labour general conference last weekend. Yes, right – he rang the police and said “I want to report myself for breaking the law. Please prosecute me.”
Don’t make me laugh.
The fact is that when In-Nazzjon reported on what Karmenu Vella and Johnny Dalli had done, the police summoned the editor and tried to make him reveal his source.
The police wanted to know who had seen Johnny Dalli and Karmenu Vella unloading that stuff and told the newspaper.
Now perhaps while he’s about it, Karmenu Vella would like to clear up that little matter of a log-book, kept by the people who ‘sold’ colour televisions, of those who should be allowed to buy one and which minister (or other potentate) had ‘recommended’ them. There is a rather interesting list under the heading ‘Recommended by Karmenu Vella’.