Ken Mifsud Bonnici, a legal adviser to the European Commission, wrote that Malta was facing a “veritable collapse of the rule of law”.
At the root of the problem, he argued, was a constitution (bequeathed by Britain, Malta’s former colonial ruler) that hands vast powers to the executive, without the checks normal in a democracy. For example, only the police, who answer to political authorities, have the power to initiate investigations, “so police investigations against the government or without its consent are impossible”.
On May 7th, the Sunday Times of Malta reported that the island’s financial watchdog had told the police it had a “reasonable suspicion” that the prime minister’s right-hand man, Keith Schembri, had been involved in money-laundering. Yet the claim, which Mr Schembri denies, was not investigated, the paper said.
Does any of this matter beyond little Malta? If Mr Mifsud Bonnici is right, it does: whichever party is in office, the island could be used by dubious interests as a private back door into the EU.