Sunday, 22 December 2013, 10:50 , by Daphne Caruana Galizia
He’s not from Mellieha but you never know; he might knock you down with his red leather sofa. How do we know he has one? He called the press to his home last Friday and sat on it, puffing away on a cigarette, defiantly justifying his position and that of Freemasons in the judiciary in general. Of course he can throw a party in his courtroom, pass round the whisky, smoke in a public building and order the arrest of a journalist for trying to take photographs of him doing all this. Why not? He’s not wrong. He’s right. And if you think he’s a woman because of his name, he’ll run his hand over his crotch, as he was reported in the newspapers as having done, to prove that he’s a real man – because copious facial hair is not enough and he might be mistaken for the Bearded Lady of Barnum’s Circus.
Peralta showed no regret for bringing the bench into yet more disrepute. But that’s because a man cannot feel regret for something he does not know he has done. In Peralta’s strange world, magistrates can do as they please, live dissolute lives, make a spectacle of themselves, join Freemasons’ lodges, conduct themselves in such a manner as to attract a motion of impeachment by the Prime Minister, and when they get really comfortable, throw parties in their courtroom, bring out their cigarettes and puff away under the No Smoking sign. They can turn their bench into a bar, have their court assistants offer incoming lawyers glasses of whisky, set up a Christmas tree and play carols not because of the seasonal theme but because they think the pun on their first name is amusing.
When challenged about his party, at the press conference, Peralta reportedly replied: “What’s wrong with that? I’ve been throwing these parties for more than 20 years. I even threw them in Kosovo.” He really does think this makes it better, not worse. That was a reference to the period he spent there when he was assigned to the United Nations Interim Mission after the Maltese government thought it expedient to export yet another of our problems, as it did with John Dalli some years later. Peralta sat in judgement there over war criminals and those involved in organised crime, and quite frankly, one wonders what proceedings were like. Going on the basis of some of his pronouncements in the Maltese courts, they must have been quite interesting. “I can understand why you lined those boys up and shot them in the head. You really can’t trust these Muslims, and calling you gay is a grievous insult. But next time, just run them down in your car.”
If Peralta brazens it out, he’ll get away with it. Look at it this way: he’s got away with a lot worse since he was appointed to the bench in 1990. He’s survived one attempt at impeaching him and may well survive another, though it is unlikely to get to that stage. An impeachment motion must be brought before Parliament by the Prime Minister, and despite his strong words of condemnation, delivered in a curiously unfeeling voice and probably only to soothe the nerves of an angry public, the Prime Minister has not mentioned doing any such thing.
It is the Opposition leader who has brought the subject up, saying that the Opposition will support an impeachment motion. Put simply and unequivocally, this means that the impeachment of Carol Peralta is now down to one man: Joseph Muscat. If he wants to impeach him, he can be impeached tomorrow, because he has the Opposition’s full support. But he does not want to impeach him. That much is obvious. He will go no further than criticising what he has done. Peralta’s links with the Labour Party and several of its leading lights and key networkers are far too strong. As we know only too well by now, the Prime Minister does not step on those sorts of toes because some toes know too much.
The Prime Minister, too, is hoping to bluff and brazen his way out of this one, by having Carol Peralta’s behaviour referred to the Commission for the Administration of Justice to recommend a course of action. An already sadly misinformed public thinks that the Prime Minister cannot act without permission from this commission. But of course he can. The Prime Minister does not take orders or require permission from the Commission for the Administration of Justice to bring an impeachment motion before the House. The commission’s role in this respect is purely advisory. Prime ministers who do not wish to take responsibility for their own decisions pass the buck to the commission and hope that it will not in turn be passed back to them.
Meanwhile, in other (related) news, a man has been hauled before the court on charges of smashing a glass into a woman’s face when she called him a dwarf. I have no idea who the magistrate is, but he’s a lucky man if it’s Carol Peralta. He would sympathise with that kind of thing: when a woman calls a man a dwarf, she’s asking for trouble, what with a grievous insult like that, and possibly even in Mellieha. She’s lucky to get away with just a glass smashed in her face. And she’s even luckier that the magistrate hasn’t ordered her arrest for calling a real man a dwarf.