Sympathy for Arrigo is entirely misplaced

Published: September 11, 2011 at 11:03am

On the comments-board at timesofmalta.com, Joe aka Peppi Azzopardi has attempted to refute criticism of Noel Arrigo’s early release and the fact that he served his entire term at Mount Carmel Psychiatric Hospital rather than in prison.

He asks us to put ourselves in Arrigo’s position and that of his family. We would feel differently, he says, if it were our husband, father, grandfather, brother or uncle.

Well, that can be said of anything, can’t it.

But in situations like this, people find themselves unable to empathise precisely BECAUSE they can’t imagine themselves or their close male relatives in that position.

On the other hand, they empathise completely with the victims, and close relatives of the victims, of drug-dealing, like the young man who only a few days ago was reduced to such levels of despair that he took a car from the rehabilitation centre where he was incarcerated, drove it to the bridge that traverses Wied il-Ghasel in Mosta, and hurled himself to his death.

Anybody who feels sympathy for Noel Arrigo does so for entirely the wrong person and makes it amply evident that he or she does not think the crime was ‘that bad’. I didn’t see Joe Azzopardi asking us to think of the relatives of those men who abused boys at St Joseph’s Home, when they were torn to shreds all over the internet.

The impression some people seem to have is that Arrigo’s was a victimless crime. But ultimately, it was not.

I feel very differently towards him than I do to Patrick Vella, who was in league with him. Vella admitted with a full ‘mea maxima culpa’, went down, served his time quietly actually in prison and did not go to any parties or do any showing-off in the interim or afterwards.

Noel Arrigo used every means possible to put off and then prolong his trial, fought it all the way, and spent the intervening years – was it seven years? – holding court at parties, receptions and social events totally shamelessly.

And I have no doubt he will take up exactly where he left off, as though nothing happened.

The last thing he needs is people like Joe Azzopardi and others encouraging him to do exactly that.

‘You have paid the price and served your time, now move on’ is something that applies to somebody who steals a handbag, not to a Chief Justice who takes a bribe from a drug-dealer to shorten his prison-term on appeal.

For such a person, the consequences are permanent and a brief spell in ‘prison’ is not enough to redeem himself. If he is unwilling or physically unable to devote his remaining years to good works, then he should put on a different form of hair-shirt and wear it for the rest of his days.

Nobody is suggesting that he does what that poor young man did and fling himself off Mosta bridge, but defiantly behaving as though it’s all over and done with is not an option.

When people show regret and make it evident that they are mortified by their actions – as distinct from being mortified by their incarceration, which is entirely different – I can feel compassion for them.

When they are brazenly indifferent to the implications of what they have done, apart from the implications to themselves, that is, I feel none at all.

And that’s how it should be.




42 Comments Comment

  1. red nose says:

    A person is such a high position as Chief Justice cannot by any means escape the barrage. The little esteem that the people “had” for the Courts was suddenly reduced to nil by his and Vella’s actions. I pity the present incumbents.

  2. sherpa says:

    Apparently he is still playing around with rosary beads. Vote Noel Arrigo for POPE.

  3. Dee says:

    Great article. As you rightly pointed out Vella acceptedf the consequences of his misdemeanours without complaint and with dignity.

    Arrigo was, metaphorically speaking, dragged by the scruff of his neck and the seat of his pants whilst he spat, snarled, hissed and clawed all the way to his “cell”.

    When that failed, he brandished his rosary beads.

    God help us all if policemen, judges, magistrates and lawyers take any serious notice of what Mr. Azzopardi said. We will end up worse then countries which have to battle daily against Cosa Nostra, Ndrangheta and the Mafia.

    Mr Azzopardi, Arrigo is not the only one with relatives. Hitler, Mussolini, Caligula,Saddam , Idi Amin, Gheddafi and paedophile priests too had /have relatives as did/do all their victims .

  4. Rover says:

    Daphne, it appears that we have to rely on you to spell it out to people like Peppi Azzopardi and many others that there is no sympathy or empathy for members of the judiciary who behave so badly and who are beneath contempt.

    This is not a case of having served just a few months in an institution but the terrible undermining of our judicial system and the example given to thousands of citizens who now believe that the whole system is corrupt.

    How on earth can Arrigo repair the damage?

  5. Shocked says:

    I feel that Noel Arrigo has shamed and brought into doubt the Maltese justice system. All those ‘not guilty’ verdicts and acquittals of the past are now suspect in my eyes.

  6. Rosary beads are out of stock.

  7. Galian says:

    Those were exactly my thoughts after I read Joe Azzopardi’s comments. Sometimes Mr. Azzopardi has a really warped way of seeing things.

  8. Jozef says:

    Wanna bet Peppi will invite him to Xarabank?

    Soft music, two chairs facing each other, one spotlight overhead and half an hour of sticky sentimentalism.

    And don’t forget the box of tissues.

    • M. says:

      I was just thinking about that. Maybe he’ll have Consuelo Scerri Herrera sitting on the same panel. To really spice it up, maybe he’dl like to throw in a couple of police inspectors, too.

    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      Ah! I love these reconstructions!

      Soft music. Fabri strumming away gently. “Peppi” slowly, and I mean slowly (his idea of gravitas) reciting the events.

      The audience applauds. Quietly at first.

      Then louder and louder as some up-and-coming Eurovision hopeful works them up into a frenzy of clapping with her rendition of “There can be miracles” or some other epic tune.

      Then the “discussion” resumes.

      Someone shouts “Ejja kuragg!”.

      Arrigo is about to start describing Mount Carmel when that talentless ass-clown pipes up: “Sur Azzopardi, James Bondin…”. The audience laughs. And applauds. Then applauds and laughs some more as he recounts a couple of extremely limp jokes about “il-magistrati taghna”.

      Peppi reminds us to phone two-four-one-two-hundrit-jekk-trid-tkun-maghna-fis-sala, and in case we hadn’t noticed, reminds us of the free food at the end of the show, as his overweight audience licks their chops in eager anticipation.

      “Doktor Arrigo, ahna sirna nafu li int thobb il-gardinagg/il-ganutell/is-sajd/whatever….”.

      Five seconds later Fabri interrupts with some ditty from Cat Stevens. Five minutes later it’s advert time.

      Three hours later, everyone waddles out of the studio in placid contentment.

      Arrigo clutches a handful of coupons for pizza ghal tnejn, massage parlours, free popcorn, xahar abbonament ghall-gym, ic-cans li tirbah vjagg ghal Livigno, the works.

      Alas, and so the darkness spreads.

  9. Wrangler says:

    Ma stenejtiex minn Peppi! Min jaf kemm kienu ilhom jixxahmu dawn.

  10. David says:

    The former chief justice is to be condemned for his grave misdeeds. However as any other person, he should be given the opportunity to learn from his past mistakes and continue living peacefully his present and future life.

    It often happens, as the Bard said, that the evil that man does lives after him while the good often remains interred in his bones. The evil man does should not let us forget the good deeds. Many of those who knew the fomer judge as a judge in our courts certainly still recall his unassuming and positive contribution as a judge.

    I think it is time to examine the justice system. Should we have a different sytem of appointing and vetting judges? Should the Commission for the Administration of Justice we given more powers to supervise and discipline members of the judiciary?

    • Harry Purdie says:

      What a convoluted, illogical, cross-legged comment, David.

      He manipulates his prison sentence, plays psycho, hides in a pseudo mental ‘hotel’, never admits guilt and you say, give him a chance to ‘live in peace’?

      However, you then follow up with: don’t let any other greedy, corrupt, people onto the bench? Jeez!

  11. Moggy says:

    Cannot agree more, Daphne.

  12. Lorna saliba says:

    I’m never sure what to expect from Peppi Azzopardi whenever he speaks out. This is a man who chairs a programme on TV which is intended to reach the lowest forms of life in this country.

    A programme which expects the pubic to sympathise with transvestites and prison inmates and who openly invites crackpots to make a sensation of them.

  13. *1981* says:

    Pity him? He should have recieved a prison sentence, a real one, not this. Sent to spend it with the general population in Corradino.

    Pity? Maybe the boy who was abandoned at Mt. Carmel at the age of six and is now in prison because there are no decent alternatives to imprisonment for juvenile offenders.

    But pity Arrigo? He’s the worse of the worse, given power and trust and abusing it in such manner and then trying to justify himself and resorting to religion and mental illness.

    No dignity even when found guilty to be a man and accept it.

    Our courts are full of buffoons and opportunists and it angers me so much that the cases like that of the 16 yr old boy and others are not tackled appropriately, while people like Arrigo get away with murder. Disgusting !

  14. Bob says:

    What is Peppi’s interest?

  15. Christian says:

    Most probably this has been asked before, but if he is released from Mount Carmel on the day his sentence is over, does that mean he healed and does not need any medical attention overnight?

  16. Anthony says:

    As I have already said this Arrigo should, ideally and in his own interest, spend the remainder of his life in a hole.

    If he does not follow the Saddam Hussein way there is only one other formula he can follow and that is to do a John Profumo.

    This latter option could help him to a certain extent with some degree of rehabilitation within society.

    Let us not forget that his crime was the most ignominious that a person in his position could have committed.

    His shamefulness is monumental.

  17. silvio farrugia says:

    Our feelings about the law courts in Malta have reached the bottom. It was already bad but now cannot be worse.

    WHERE is Europe?

  18. M. says:

    The impression I have always had of Joe (Peppi) Azzopardi is that he likes to stick out in the wrong way by being controversial, not because he is convinced about whatever the hot issue of the moment is.

  19. Lomax says:

    It is quite ironic that Arrigo’s release came in less than a week from your testimony in court.

    It is ironic because with your testimony, you had the guts to say so many things that others have only had the audacity to whisper within four walls.

    We’re experiencing in Malta a serious erosion of the formerly glorious institution that were the courts of law and both your testimony and all the Arrigo saga show what a disastrous situation we have today.

    And Peppi’s remarks show how little he understands of what really underpins a democracy.

    We cannot have a judicial system which simply releases a former chief justice found guilty of bribery as though nothing happened.

    The show must go on: indeed, but at what price?

    Once I read somewhere that “the gravity of a mistake lies in its consequences”.

    I would also say that “the gravity of a crime lies in its consequences”.

    One could steal a handbag containing one photograph which would mean the world to a person whilst another could steal a purse with 100 euros which would not create so much distress.

    The point is: this is not a simple case of bribery.

    This is not your “I-bribe-you-you-give-me-that-contract” case.

    Indeed, even these cases are condemnable. However, when an act of bribery as nefarious as this one brings a whole institution to its knees, then it is not a matter of what our father, brother or whoever would want or do. It is a matter of: how would society react in these circumstances?

    Let’s not forget that a strong judicial system is the cornerstone of any democracy and that any act, of whichever nature which does not respect that concept, is an attack on democracy itself.

  20. Lawrence says:

    Prosit Daphne, ibqa sejra hekk ghax allahares m’hawnx nies bhalek jghidu l-affarijiet kif inhuma, ghax kieku hafna affarijiet li jsiru f’dan il-pajjiz jibqghu mistura.

    Il-pajjiz immissu jisthi…22 xhar. Dik sentenza.

    Kif irid ikollok fiducja f’certi istituzjoniet, meta tara dawn l-affarijiet.

    Ara kieku kien xi Cikku Borg li ghamel xi haga hu eh…. holl xaghrek.

    Ma fadalx serjeta. Fejn ser nibqghu sejrin ma nafx.

    Lili darba xi hadd qalli li hawn min jista jaghmel kollox u hawn min ma jista jaghmel xejn.

  21. Dee says:

    It is interesting to note that many of the more supportive contributions in the Arrigo discussion on timesofmalta.com and other comments-boards and social networking sites are now conveninetly bandying around “Christian values” and” forgiveness” like they were baseball bats.

    Many of these people were, only a few weeks ago in the divorce referendum debate and the case of the pederast priests, loudly lambasted anyone who dared mention those very words.

    • Lomax says:

      Dawn l-istess nies li riedu d-divorzju. What a bunch of hypocrites!

      I prefer a person who openly declares that he’s an agnostic or that he is against the Church or whatever than a person who picks and chooses at a religion (whicever it is) to suit his needs.

      I don’t care whether somebody is for or against divorce, but I do care about consistency. These people are a bunch of hypocrites, and for that (and not for being for divorce) they shall never get my vote.

      That’s why I prefer Gonzi. You may not like or agree with his choices, but the man’s got guts, principles, consistency and courage. And above all, he’s coherent.

  22. Dee says:

    Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando on facebook;

    “Did you know that the people that seem the strongest are usually the most sensitive? Did you know that the people who exhibit the most kindness are usually the first to get mistreated? Did you know the ones who take care of others all the time are usually the ones that need it the most? Did you know the 3 hardest things to say are: I love you, I’m sorry and Help me? .””…..

    Brazenly Lifted in its entirety from here;
    http://www.shroomery.org/forums/showflat.php/Number/15030866

    Tejatrini!

  23. carlos says:

    Daphne, do not try to understand what Peppi says or does.

    He is only interested in enhancing his name and his programme.

    Many of the things he says just do not make sense.

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