Malta Diary Shades of Reality Macabre that even make Halloween a non-starter
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Halloween is done and dusted, a theatrical and carnival-like commercial trick for gullible adults and a treat for eager children who will rise to any occasion to dress up and look scary and macabre.
However, over the last four weeks Malta has been witnessing its own very real macabre scenes that have shocked, angered and astounded, scenes of a horrific death, the inhumane incarceration of a woman, and a dreadful murder that saw its origins six years ago but which Court case continued last week.
On 31st January 2011 at 09.30 am, the Qawra Police Station was informed of a suspicious death at an apartment in nearby Xemxija. When they went on site they found a horrendous scene, described by “The Times of Malta” thus:
“The police found broken glass all over the flat, blood stains on the floor and a broken ornament.
“The victim (Yulia Gennadievan Boubekova aged 26, Russian) was found dead, face up in front of the balcony, her face red around the mouth, her fingers red with black tips. She had a forehead injury and a bite on one cheek.
“When the police spoke to the mother (Tamara Gennadievan Boubekova, 58) she seemed to be in shock. She was bruised all over and smelt of urine, indicating she had not taken a bath for a few days.”
Shortly after, the mother was charged with her daughter’s murder and speculation ran rife that the murder was allegedly the result of a sexual fantasy that had gone wrong because mother and daughter were in a violent lesbian sexual relationship. Forensic investigations found almost 90 ‘love-bites’ on their bodies and the appointed Court Inquiry expert concluded the love-bites were reciprocated between mother and daughter.
Daughter Yulia was a known alcoholic and drug addict, which continued to fuel speculation.
However, the mother’s defence lawyer contested the forensic evidence and newly-appointed Court experts concluded that the initial forensic result was incorrect because proper DNA testing had not taken place and last week they reported to the Court that the bites were not reciprocated between mother and daughter. Six years have elapsed and the case continues.
On Monday evening, 30th October, the Police searched a remote and disused underground cavern strew with filth in the Rinella area of Kalkara and found 46-year-old Maltese woman Natalie Williams, a mother of three grown-up children who had been reported missing by her family. She had been forced into the cavern by her Seychelles-born husband 38-year-old Roddy Williams who has now been charged with her attempted homicide.
She had been locked in the cavern for three days without food or water, presumably to cause her to starve to death. Natalie had initiated separation procedures against her second husband and her father and a close friend alleged she had suffered years of brutal domestic violence at his hands. Her father described Roddy Williams as a “serious drugs addict”.
However, as horrendous and shocking as these two cases are, the greatest shock experienced by the islands of Malta and Gozo came on Monday, 16th October at about 4 pm. The internationally known journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia was blown to bits in a tremendous car-bomb explosion, so powerful an explosion that her body was torn into five separate parts and her shattered vehicle flung into the air, landing about 100 metres away.
Now Ms Caruana Galizia was never a person one could be neutral about. She was in the “deeply hate” or “deeply love” category. A newspaper contributor she also had her daily blog followed by many thousands, almost a “must-read” blog.
Over a span of 25 years she had ruffled many feathers, mostly those of Labour Party Members of Parliament in Opposition and in Government, as well as officials, affiliates and sympathisers. These included a current Minister and the Government current Chief-of-Staff when she revealed they had a Panama account and extended this to the current Prime Minister with allegations that in his wife’s name he held a Panama-based E-grant account.
The list of libel and slander cases taken out against her is almost of biblical proportions and increased lately when she turned her wrath on the newly-elected Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the party she supported, the Nationalist Party, with damaging allegations about his financial dealings.
On that fateful day on 16th October she was driving to the normally-slumbering village of Bidnija (where she lived) when the bomb exploded.
Reactions were immediate with fingers pointing to “a political killing” as an act of revenge. Her death became the framework for a disgraceful exhibition of political manoeuvring, her horrific end being used to curry electoral gain in a most despicable manner.
Within minutes, Malta became worldwide media fodder, her death alleged to be the result of a curb on the liberty of expression, the freedom of journalism and many others jumping on the “make hay while the sun shines” bandwagon – in my opinion a parody of total injustice on the death of a civilian human being.
Investigations have been intense and highly scrutinised to ensure they are carried out properly with the help of expertly Dutch forensic investigators and hi-tech FBI personnel sent from New York at the Government’s request.
A major problem is that if the Police were to draw up a list of suspects it would number several hundreds who felt the rough edge of her pen (well, laptop nowadays). As days passed, a slightly clearer picture began to emerge indicating that the assassination was carried out not for something that Caruana Galizia had written in the past but because of something she was about to write and reveal.
The Italian media gave clear indications that Caruana Galizia was investigating the contraband of stolen fuel being trafficked from Libya, through Maltese territorial waters and hence to Sicily, a Mafia operation with all its sinister implications, oil smuggling dubbed by the Italians as “dirty oil” and said to be worth €50 million.
The journalist herself – who had received numerous threats from various quarters over many years – was in the habit of changing her vehicle often and in fact was detonated in a hired car and hence appears to have been aware of the dangers involved.
Clearly, the bomb was made and placed inside the vehicle – and not as first suspected under the vehicle – by an expert using semtex. It is not as yet clear how it was detonated.
What is perfectly clear is that the intention was not to frighten off or warn. Whoever placed the bomb wanted to ensure beyond any margin of doubt that Daphne Caruana Galizia would be obliterated.
An emotional funeral was held last Friday attended by many hundreds of admirers on a day that was declared by the Government as a National Day of Mourning.
Investigations are of course continuing but as in all such cases, the real truth may never be known.
On a weekly basis I am inserting a Maltese saying, expression or proverb and where possible English equivalents that will help give insight into the Maltese psyche.
“If you have to listen you must, but believe only what you want to believe”
Self-explanatory really; you have to listen but only give credibility to that which you think is credible.