Neville Gafa entered Libya with a visa issued on the invitation of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, according to leaked documents that counter Gafa’s assertion that he was there on a “personal visit”.
Journalists in Libya published the leaked document showing the invitation to Gafa and Kenneth Camilleri on a letterhead of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The invitation on the Libyan Foreign Ministry’s letterhead is an “urgent” request for visas to be issued to Gafa and to Camilleri “on an official visit” for a month. The reason given was a visit to the Maltese embassy in Tripoli – which is still closed.
An invitation from a citizen of the country is normally required as part of the visa process. But anyone on a “personal visit”, such as a holiday or to see friends and family, would not have an invitation from a member of government.
An invitation issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicates official government business. Al Marsad published the document, together with a list of questions to Gafa after he said their report was “fake news”.
Last week, the Libyan government’s communications office and the Libyan Interior Ministry said Gafa had meetings in Tripoli in his capacity as “special envoy of the Prime Minister,” discussing matters of national interest with a number of Libyan ministers. Photos distributed bear the official government stamp.
Yet Gafa denied this, saying he went to Libya on a “personal trip”. His statement was supported by officials in Libya, until the invitation bearing the official letterhead was leaked, after which the Libyan Interior Ministry confirmed it had issued the invitation to Gafa.
After Gafa said the report was “fake news,” Al Marsad also published the full list of 12 questions sent to Gafa together with his replies. They also published the questions Gafa left unanswered, like “do you have any contact with the Maltese Prime Minister and his office?”
Gafa was given a position at the Prime Minister’s Office after the medical visas scandal. Gafa insisted with the press in Libya that the investigation “found no evidence of wrongdoing”.
Notably, Gafa told Al Marsad that he did not present himself as the Special Envoy of the Prime Minister but as the Projects Director at the Health Ministry, even sending them a business card despite the fact that the Health Ministry has made it clear that Gafa does not form part of the secretariat.
“During the meetings, I did not present myself as the Special Envoy of the Prime Minister, but as the Project Director of the Ministry of Health, which is my official position in the Maltese government. This is the position and this has been proved through my business knowledge card, which I have exchanged with the Libyan officials I met,” Gafa told Al Marsad.
Gafà has not worked at the Health Ministry since he was implicated in an alleged medical visas racket in 2016, after which he was moved to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Al Marsad questioned how Gafa got to meet high-ranking Libyan officials while in Tripoli on a “personal tour”, but got no reply. Gafa said no deals were reached as these were “friendly meetings”.
Gafa also denied reports that he had left Libya by car to Tunisia after intelligence forces targeted him at the airport. He insisted he flew to Tunisia from the same airport on a scheduled trip. Yet, he made it a point to address posts on Twitter on the issue, saying he was “back home safe and sound”.