So much for the independent inquiry

Published: March 4, 2017 at 9:48am

Under pressure to do something about the fact that two men in Gozo, after direct interference by government politicians in police operations, were permitted to change the statements they gave when under interrogation for drug-dealing, Joseph Muscat has decided that he should hold some kind of inquiry.

And of course, despite the seriousness of the case, he hasn’t appointed a board of inquiry, but just the one person. His first choice was the president of Sliema’s waterpolo club, a lawyer who in the last general election campaigned for Manuel Mallia, who was – but this doesn’t appear to matter – Police Minister. Frank Testa is a rabid Laburist and a massive Muscat fan – but this doesn’t appear to matter either.

He comes from one of those families of Sliema Mintoffjani – both on the maternal and paternal side as generally tends to be the case – who were known as il-familja ta’ Scot. And that seems to matter even less. The only thing that’s been touted is that he’s a partner with the law firm Mamo TCV.

Testa has since had the sense to resign the commission. There was so much fuss about it in the media and some people simply don’t like the attention. His law firm must have liked it even less.

Now the Prime Minister has appointed a replacement, who was spotted walking in to the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday afternoon: another lawyer, called John Vassallo. Unfortunately for the public – though clearly not for the people he is supposed to be investigating in this formal inquiry, or for Muscat who appointed him – Vassallo is a former Labour Party electoral candidate who only a couple of weeks ago was appointed deputy chairman of the newly constituted Lands Authority, beneath the chairmanship of a disgraced former judge who slid out of being impeached by parliament only because Muscat helped him get away with it. On that Lands Authority board, he also sits alongside the first of Economy Minister Christian Cardona’s ex wives, Maria Cardona, who Muscat appointed too (got to keep the exes happy).

Can this country slide any further down the spout? Those of us who are a little older than 25 know that yes, it can. And that is exactly why it has to be made to stop.

Disgraced former judge Lino Farrugia Sacco: the ‘Gozo drugs’ inquiry is to be carried out by John Vassallo, who deputises for him on the Lands Authority.