This week, we learnt some key new information about the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
We learnt that the prime suspect is a “major Maltese businessman” whose dealings were being investigated by the journalist early in 2017 but who never had a legal battle against her.
We learnt that the assassination was first planned to happen at the beginning of the year but was postponed until after summer, presumably to avoid clashing with the election. (There is no evidence linking the murder to politicians, but a potential connection has not been ruled out.)
We also learned that the police never questioned the prime suspect, or another two suspected collaborators who remain at large.
The police have not denied any of this information.
So now we know a well-known member of society commissioned the brutal slaughter of a journalist two years ago and has continued to live his life with complete impunity.
Worse still, people at the top echelons of government – including the Prime Minister – must know exactly who he is. Joseph Muscat himself has said he is officially briefed from time to time, and surely there’s a lot of informal briefing going on too.
The government has so far kept the suspected killer’s identity hidden from the public, arguing that this would jeopardise his prosecution before enough evidence is secured.
But this strategy has other repercussions and we should be aware of them.
For starters, it means that any one of us could be doing business with a man who felt it appropriate to plant a bomb in a woman’s car and have it triggered in broad daylight.
We could be holding meetings with this man, discussing business transactions, meeting him at social events and perhaps even enjoying drinks with him at a wedding, oblivious to the sinister truth beneath.
For all we know, the government itself has done and continues to do business with this person. How many major Maltese businessmen have no financial relationship with the Maltese government? Very few.
But while ordinary people may be doing business with this man unknowingly, the government would be doing it fully aware of the situation.
It could very well be, this man has received taxpayer money over these past two years, perhaps even a few permits, business licenses or even land deals.
He could be meeting ministers regularly – some aware of these suspicions and others perhaps not. He could be negotiating deals with them and other civil servants.
How will all this look on the government when the man’s identity is finally made public? It already looks terrible to the outside world (including foreign investors in Malta) that one of our major businessmen was involved in such a crime.
If the government has known who he is all this time but continued to do business with him, how should we feel about it?
Would we say this was the sacrifice the government had to make to keep the investigation intact? Or will it cast doubt on the political connections of the murder?
Would this explain why he has been allowed to go on with complete impunity and has not been questioned for all this time?
Officially, very few people know the identity of this prime suspect.
But it does not take a rocket scientist to work things out from the carefully-worded report of The Sunday Times of Malta
There aren’t many major Maltese businessmen whose dealings were being investigated by Caruana Galizia early in 2017 but who did not take legal action against her.
And if the Whatsapp gossip is correct, the government is going to have a lot to answer for when this emerges.
Earlier this week, Lovin Malta asked the Prime Minister whether he knew the identity of the suspected mastermind. He avoided giving a straight answer, saying only that if he knew, he would not say.
Today Lovin Malta sent his office another question: Can the Prime Minister please confirm or deny whether the government has any official business relationship with this man? Specifically, can the Prime Minister assure us that no taxpayer money is going into the pockets of this man or his associated businesses?
We are not holding our breath for an answer.