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Letters • February 15 2004

Spin without positive content

Evarist V Saliba
Ta’ l-Ibrag

The contribution by Matthew Vella entitled ‘Meinrad’s liberation angers the government whitewash machine,’ (MaltaToday, 8 February) betrays blatant bias which renders the article a spin exercise with no positive content.
Let me admit straight away that the cabinet decision to study ways to revise the criminal justice (should we say legal?) system immediately after the outcome of the acquittal of Meinrad Calleja was ill-timed. Having said that, I cannot but query some conclusions which Mr Vella presents to his readers.
He claims that "the prime witness… had failed to convince the jury of nine." Would it not be more accurate to say "failed to convince six out of a jury of nine"? I am not quibbling, but stating the facts as they are.
Can Vella honestly claim that the Prime Minister was acting on a "hunch" when he passed the information he had on this case to the police? To bolster his spin Mr Vella colours the Prime Minister’s action as a "dubious direction." Cannot Vella rely on his readers to reach their own conclusion on the merits of the Prime Minister’s action in this respect?
It strikes me as rather odd that when Etienne Gatt is mentioned, there is no hedging. Allegations are stated as facts, which is not the case, and rightly so, in other cases.
Coming to DNA testing of cigarette buts, Mr Vella claims that "injured apologists" have never questioned what he calls "police indecisive dawdling." What does he mean by injured apologists? Who are they? Is Vella aware of the evidence given by the experts on this point? Does he reject their evidence?
Mr Vella correctly claims that a jury liberated Ian Farrugia from the charges against him in spite of the evidence given by Joseph Fenech. That verdict, which also ignored the uncontested evidence of the palm print of the accused on the victim’s car, is hardly the best evidence that one can bring forward, either to dismiss the evidence of a witness who has not changed his version, and accept that of another who changed his, or to sing high praise to the jury system as it is manifesting itself in present day Malta.
I am no apologist for any criminal, and I have no inclination to whitewash any of the several criminals that have been paraded before Maltese society during this and related trials. It is a very great pity that the attempt on the life of Richard Cachia Caruana has been utilised for perceived political advantage. Mr Vella’s contribution has done absolutely nothing to counter this trend.
Incidentally, what "government whitewash machine" has Vella in mind? I did not detect any in his article.


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