Why does a construction magnate sponsor a regatta club?

To Portelli, devouring more of the Maltese and Gozitan footprint is an obsession driven by his morbid fascination to make more and more millions. Some might call it simply greed

Joseph Portelli
Joseph Portelli

This newspaper faces three contempt of court actions over its reports on the Caruana Galizia assassination middleman Melvin Theuma, with the prosecuting lawyer appointed by the courts calling for the incarceration of three people: the executive editor, a journalist and the registered editor at MaltaToday.

The conviction is captained by contracted lawyer Noel Bartolo on behalf of the court’s director-general and the punishment for contempt of court is 30 days’ incarceration or a fine of €2,330 (or both).

The accusation is that this newspaper has allegedly published material that was barred from publication by a court decree. Other independent media organisations also face the same fate.

One can argue that the details published were already in the public domain and more importantly that some of the information published was obtained from ‘other’ sources when at the time of publication, when no one was aware that the information had been filed as court documents.

Indeed, some of the information deposited in the court, such as the Theuma conversations, seems to have been purposely hidden in stacks of recordings and known only to the police and others because they have not been given a public airing. And for reasons best known to them never referred to.

Had it not been for MaltaToday we would never have known certain facts about Vincent Muscat il-Koħħu, about Melvin Theuma and about his confidant, Edwin il-Ġojja, and understood the complicated story between Yorgen Fenech and others in the political class.

Yet, this is not the point. This is indeed not just any simple case. For it is about the right of the press to ensure that in this case, all the truth emerges; and not just about what the police or some others want, but about the whole truth. The whole truth entails that crucial details of the conversations Theuma had, which reveal certain intentions, and which namedrop members of the political class.

As the media we have an obligation to relay the whole picture and not parts of it. There is abundant proof, or suspicions, that the prosecution itself may not have handled all aspects of the case in good faith. That not all those who nodded their head at what happened in October 2017 are being made to face the consequences.

Needless to say, the alleged bombmakers and the role of the associates and their knowledge of other crimes was flagrantly ignored by the police... until the whole roof came crushing down and they had no alternative but to act. After all, it was known earlier on in 2018 that Muscat ‘il-Koħħu’ was ready to talk; yet it seems it took ages for the police to act.

Whether we like it or not, the persistence and insistence of the independent media meant that the police could not rest on its laurels. There was a mental block on the part of the police making it unable extend its tentacles to other untouchables.

Yet the most important angle to all this story, is the belief that the murder on the 16 October, 2017 was not planned by one person but several people, including some of those in the corridors of power. And more crucially, that there is a subtle drive by the prosecution to demolish any stratagem to go beyond the narrative of this being a one-man job.

The media must be allowed to report and relay the truth and seek justice for all. These concerted contempt of court actions are more than a slap in the face but a clear attempt to gag the press.

From Gozo to Bormla

The decision by the Labour Party to commercialise the Rialto Theatre in Bormla has led to rumours that the Gozitan king of concrete Joe Portelli is eyeing the Rialto Theatre for yet another project.

It is quite strange how often he is not targeted for his projects whilst other developers are. Portelli has contributed to making Malta and Gozo a much sadder and uglier place and today represents the interests of other local and foreign investors who invest millions in construction for a quick return. His projects are scattered all over the Island, and they are typically big and unforgivably ugly and damaging to the environment.

To him, devouring more of the Maltese and Gozitan footprint is an obsession driven by his morbid fascination to make more and more millions. Some might call it simply greed.

Only recently, but not surprisingly, the Bormla Regatta Club announced on Facebook that J. Portelli Projects, founded by Joseph Portelli, will be sponsoring their team.

Portelli has already done the same in Hamrun where he was crowned club president for pouring in cash to win them the Premier league, and has also various sponsorship agreements in Gozo. Rumours have it that he is also rather benevolent towards the political parties – though this is a closely guarded secret.

Portelli is good news for investment in cement, but bad news for the aesthetics and environment of this country. The Labour party has every right and good reason to think of realising the value of its properties, but it also has a social obligation to the community of Bormla.

And that means, it should not allow the Rialto, part and parcel of the history of the Labour Party, to fall into the hands of greedy investors such as Joe Portelli. Money can buy you anything and get you everywhere, but we still have a chance of voicing our opposition to the insatiable and wilful rape of our city centres and countryside by the likes of Joe Portelli.

Unlike, of course, Zaren Vassallo... the Nationalist benefactor and developer who after years of making millions out of concrete edifices decided it was the right time to walk into the sunset by actually complaining about the uglification of Malta in a puff-piece interview with The Times. No wonder Paul of Tarsus, that famous convert who fell of the horse, found a gullible people on this island to carry out some abracadabra with snakes.