The day many never expected to see in Malta has come: Keith Schembri has been sent to Corradino Correctional Facility after a magistrate refused to let him and his 10 associates out on bail in the wake of corruption and financial crimes charges.
Social media was flooded with reactions to the former chief of staff’s fall. The charges are related to two magisterial inquiries.
One inquiry is related to allegations that Keith Schembri channelled over €650,000 to then-Allied Newspapers Managing Director Adrian Hillman between 2011 and 2015. The other is related to suspected kickbacks amounting to €100,000 from the sale of citizenship between Schembri and Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna.
And much of this only came to light through Daphne Caruana Galizia’s reporting.
Five years on – and on Simon Busuttil’s birthday no less – a magistrate ordered the people involved to be remanded in custody with sufficient evidence against them.
And Malta had a lot to say about it.
1. Matthew Caruana Galizia compared the historic moment to the Santa Marija convoy, and noted that some of the key individuals who are ensuring justice occurs in Malta were all women.
2. And Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sister quoted verses from the Bible, noting that the time comes for everything eventually.
3. The story made international headlines too, with sites likes Reuters covering the details of the arrest.
4. Outspoken activist and National Book Council Chairman Mark Camilleri noted that this was the first time such a high-ranking politically exposed person had ever spent a night in jail.
5. And others, including PN’s Mark Anthony Sammut, noted the lack of an apology from Prime Minister Robert Abela over the Labour Party protecting Schembri for years.
6. Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat reacted to the arrests without actually naming Schembri, his former right hand man.
7. Simon Busuttil dedicated the day to Caruana Galizia, saying the case was a “damning indictment of the entire Labour establishment and a resounding confirmation that Daphne was right.”
“Daphne, this one’s for you. We’re finishing what you started.”
8. And former Labour MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando called on other organisations involved in the case to be more transparent with the depth of their involvement.
9. PN candidate and lawyer Joe Giglio said the charges were “better late than never” and praised the “resolve” of Caruana Galizia as well as Busuttil in pursuing the story even in the face of backlash against them.
10. After all was said and done though, the island could still barely believe that Schembri truly had been arrested and sent to jail, albeit for the time being.
Cover photo left: Screenshot from Times of Malta