“Don’t worry, I didn’t do anything behind Joseph Muscat’s back. It was Keith Schembri’s sworn testimony to the Caruana Galizia survey.
Not once but three times, Schembri insisted that whatever he did, Muscat knew about it.
“Have you spoken to Joseph Muscat about your friendship with Yorgen Fenech,” he was asked.
Schembri could have simply answered “Yes, I did”. Instead, his response revealed a lot more. “Muscat knew everything. I didn’t hide anything from him.
Schembri’s calculated revelation is an intimidating message to Muscat. It is also a message to the nation: I was not alone. Don’t blame me, Muscat was the boss.
Schembri was determined to get his point across.
It was requested by the commission of inquiry if he knew that cabinet ministers claimed he had betrayed Muscat.
Again another message for Joseph: “I am still friends with Joseph Muscat” until now. He insisted: “I have never done anything without informing the Prime Minister”.
Schembri was not an uncontrollable maverick. He was just following the roadmap – Joseph’s roadmap.
Schembri’s message rings loud and clear. Those like Robert Abela who claimed at that chaotic cabinet meeting in November 2019 when Schembri resigned as chief of staff that “Keith Schembri screwed you up” were wrong. Schembri was categorical: Muscat “knew” everything, had planned everything.
Schembri’s testimony at the inquest had a clear purpose: to deliver a message to Muscat: “You must continue to protect me because if I go down, you will too; I know too much about you.
To prove that he was ready to yell at Muscat if necessary, he revealed that he informed Muscat who was the ultimate beneficial owner of 17 Black.
Muscat had repeatedly denied knowing who owned 17 Blacks.
What Schembri was really telling us was that Muscat had lied.
What he was saying to Muscat was: be careful, I’ll speak if I have to.
Muscat got the message.
Schembri was arrested and charged with money laundering, creating documents containing false information, using false names, using illegal means, details or untruths to mislead, making profits at the expense of others, to join forces with others in Malta and abroad to commit a crime punishable by imprisonment, bribe others, make false statements to public authorities, give false testimony in court, present false documents, falsify public documents and knowingly using false documents.
Yet as Muscat was pursued by the media for commenting on the dramatic developments surrounding his former chief of staff, he posted a shy facebook post. He did not even dare to pronounce Schembri’s name.
“That’s all I have to say,” Muscat commented.
All gently tiptoe around the chef, desperately avoiding disturbing him in any way-Kévin Cassar
“A number of people, including Malta timetables, are accused of a case of alleged corruption in the private sector that occurred under the administration of the PN.
Muscat shuddered in terror at the threatening Schembri.
Muscat’s grip on the party is demonstrated by the blind repetition of the lies of his false message by the party apparatus.
It was just a case of corruption in the private sector. (There have been many cases and they have occurred deep within his government, one involving his Golden Passport program.)
It all happened under a PN administration. (Corruption, forgery, lies and lies continued until Schembri’s resignation in 2019 and beyond).
Schembri knows that if he keeps control of Muscat, he controls the party.
Chris Fearne, Deputy Prime Minister, testified before the same inquiry that Muscat refused to discuss Schembri’s sacking, even after serious revelations about him.
“He’s my trusted person and it’s up to me, not the cabinet,” Muscat reportedly told Fearne.
Schembri’s position was “not to be discussed”.
On May 22, 2016, after the Panama Papers were revealed, Schembri refused to answer journalists’ questions. He said he had no intention of resigning. He simply ignored the Panama Papers.
Instead, he launched a brutal attack on those who exposed his betrayal. He accused the Times to “build a plot” against him.
In typical cruelty, he claimed he had given a loan of 1.5 million euros to Progress Press.
“The Times knows the identity of this client well, ”he blackmailed. (Allied Group later clarified that it did not have any loans of any kind with its suppliers.)
Schembri slashed the PN for “fomenting instability by attacking the country’s institutions”. However, in the last Facebook post before his imprisonment, he attacked the institutions, the investigating judge, the conclusions of the investigation and legal experts.
“All people of goodwill expect a measured and tempered forum for democratic debate, not cap and dagger machinations and conspiracy theories,” he falsely concluded.
No one is more adept at cloak-and-dagger machinations than Keith “il-Kasco”. And it is this skill that gives him the assurance that soon enough he will be free.
“How fucked up” was Muscat’s first thought as Daphne Caruana Galizia was exterminated. As Schembri tightens that screw, Muscat has lost its arrogance.
She is a tormented soul, living in fear that an angry Schembri will knock over the fuse.
It’s no surprise that in the face of such overwhelming evidence (or evidence, as Labor loyalists prefer to call it) against Schembri, there is complete silence – from Labor, Muscat and Abela.
Not a single sentence of regret, apology or contrition.
No denunciation or declaration.
All gently tiptoed around the leader, desperately avoiding disturbing him in any way. Muscat is afraid to name it. Labor is the scapegoat for the Times. And from Abela, a pathetic and nervous response: “I can only answer for what I have done.”
Indeed, he should, during the years of cowardly tolerate Schembri’s perfidy.
The files on the prime minister, ministers, parliamentary secretaries and others that Schembri offered to share with Pierre Portelli are now useful.
These are Schembri’s levers of control.
Their content will start to leak unless Schembri gets what he wants.
Schembri’s testimony resonates deafeningly in Muscat’s ears, day and night:
“Don’t worry, I didn’t do anything behind his back.”
We were in it together, friends forever.
We will not separate – whether free or incarcerated – in Baku or Kordin.
Kevin Cassar is a professor of surgery and a former PN candidate.
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