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I apologise for being mostly away from this website for a while.

Though I’ve done my best to keep this website updated with our live blogs from court, I’ll have to admit that covering this court case is exhausting.

The first few days felt like a bizarre hallucination that just won’t quit messing with your head. At first, I felt a hefty dose of bitter satisfaction at the sight of disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat and his former associates pacing back and forth in the corridors outside the courtroom.

Finally, I thought. Here we are – try as he might, the artful dodger’s dodging caught up to him. Time to answer for the litany of crimes committed against our nation over the past decade.

After a month of court hearings in the historic hospitals concession case, I’d be lying if I said I’m sure of what will come next or even of what I feel about all this. It almost feels comically wrong to think that a case of this magnitude will eventually be decided by random members of a jury who are at the mercy of government-sponsored disinformation just like anyone else. After a decade of being lied to, does anyone trust the judgement of their fellow man?

It already feels surreal to watch a handful of young prosecutors and magistrates bear the colossal responsibility of representing the republic of Malta against corrupt former representatives of that same republic. It becomes nerve-wracking when you consider that for every submission made by the prosecution, there are five defence lawyers waiting with their knives out, already skinning the arguments against their clients before the other party in the proceedings is even done talking.

Documenting all of this first-hand slowly morphed that initial sense of ‘there, finally, something’s moving’ into a sense of crippling fatigue. A month later, and interest from several newsrooms has already dwindled. I didn’t even manage to reserve a slot in time for the first two hearings because it was already packed by the (admittedly very late) time I checked in to see if I would be able to squeeze in. Now, we hardly fill up every bench in the gallery of Hall 22.

There is also hope. In spite of the surreal odds stacked against them, the prosecutors in the office of the attorney general seem to be cautiously confident in the merits of the evidence presented against the accused. The police force, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. They barely made a showing – not just in court, but throughout the last four and a half years as the magisterial inquiry into the hospitals concession was underway.

I had to wait in the blistering afternoon heat in a stuffy suit for around thirty to forty minutes to sneak in a comment from police commissioner Angelo Gafa’. At no point in time has he showed up in the hospitals concession case to explain to the court why the police failed to investigate the deal on their own steam. He only did so in separate proceedings, effectively throwing inquiring magistrate Gabriella Vella under the bus to absolve himself of his own negligence.

But again, in spite of all these obstacles – the implausible odds, the slow-motion disaster that is the police force, the years and years and years of government-sponsored gaslighting about this case and the other major corruption scandals we’ve seen over the past decade – here we are.

Here we are, witnessing the agonisingly slow wheels of justice roaring to life and hoping that all the whirring, screeching noises aren’t too much to worry about. Not even the deliberate dismantlement of our institutions could stop this case from happening, even though we live in a country where five years ago, nobody could have ever possibly imagined that Muscat and co. would actually be dragged to court. Bear in mind they are not exactly being invited over for Christmas drinks at Peralta’s – they are facing charges in court as an organised crime syndicate.

So, a month into this blood-curdling court case that is exhausting to merely even contemplate and understand, this messy, convoluted story featuring a cast of characters who seem to have mastered the art of converting public finances into cash cows – where do we stand?

Well, we are either on the threshold of a second republic or the further degradation of the first one, the likes of which would make what we’ve seen so far seem like child’s play in comparison. The questions that will define the next decade of our country are the following – will our justice system finally bring us closure, or will it damn us by fostering more impunity? And in either of those scenarios, will the public respond passively or will it assert itself?

What I do know for sure is that the grief I feel whenever I document the sordid somersaults we are witnessing in Hall 22 is valid. It means something. It is pointing towards more than just the anger I’ve always felt at what has been done to our country.

It is a kind of grief that somehow also feels like a homecoming. It is the grief of those who endure gaslighting and then finally experience the breakthrough of liberation, the lifting of the fog of lies that clouded everyone’s judgement for so long. It’s the grief you feel when that tiny part of you that knew they were lying all along grew big enough to become impossible to ignore.

Most of all, it is the grief that comes with knowing that, for our country to get to this specific point in time where we are finally seeing high-profile corruption cases making their way to court, we had to sacrifice so much. Daphne Caruana Galizia paid the highest price one could ever pay in the struggle for justice. Journalism in general faces a steady decline. Countless citizens and activists have given up hope because the struggle became too much.

And yet, somehow, here we are – tempting fate, refusing to back down. New projects keep springing up. Talented individuals step forward to fight for a better future right when we need them to. Fresh faces show up to gatherings and rallies because they no longer want to passively serve a system that whips them at every turn. For every one of us that no longer serves, another one volunteers. Not because we must, but because we want to.

That’s got to count for something.

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