Head of Malta Developer’s Association Sandro Chetcuti had an office on the fourth floor of the Labour Party Headquarters in 2013, however, Speaker of the House of Representatives Anglu Farrugia, then Party Deputy Leader, had no access to that floor.
Farrugia spoke about his distaste with the style of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his frustration at the dynamics of what was going on at the fourth floor of the Labour party headquarters in today’s testimony of the public inquiry, held before an independent board, which was set up to establish whether the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia could have been prevented.
Farrugia was questioned by the board about a 2013 interview he gave to The Times of Malta titled Political Murder, where he spoke about his preoccupation that the Labour Party was in bed with big businesses and moving away from their leftist values.
“When I saw some people in the headquarters (on the fourth floor) I would ask what are they doing here?” he said. When pushed by the board members for names of the people he saw, Farrugia only mentioned Sandro Chetcuti and former chief-of-staff Keith Schembri who was “already part of the party at that time”.
“One time I left the office at 11pm and someone whom I didn’t know walked out.” He pointed out that he never was given access to the fourth floor of the building in Mile End but never asked why. “I never supported Muscat. I was not familiar with his style,” he said.
Once he tried going up to the fourth floor but found the door blocked with access through a security code. “I almost broke the door down to go in – I felt uncomfortable,” Farrugia said.
Turning to the energy policy of the Labour Party, Farrugia said that, despite being deputy leader, he was never informed about how the policy was going to work.
“I resigned in December 2012 but when I saw a strong electoral campaign I knew I had to say something,” said Farrugia, reminding the board that he had spent years working as an investigator and years in the party, so was more likely to notice unlikely events.
The board told Farrugia that he could speak to them in confidence but he said he had nothing to add.
Former Police Commissioner John Rizzo then took the stand. Speaking about his dismissal from his role as commissioner, Rizzo said “(the government) felt I had spent enough time in that position” and was offered a job in security services by Muscat.
“He offered me anything I wanted, except as police commissioner. The exact question was ‘Where do you want to go?’ I said ‘I want to work with the police’. He offered me a job as a consultant for another €10,000. I told him ‘If you want my advice, I’m always available but I don’t want money – out of principle,” he said.
Rizzo was asked about the police protection provided for Caruana Galizia during his time as commissioner between November 2001 and April 2013. “I was not the first one to give Caruana Galizia protection, those before me did so too. At times, I used to have an officer set at a fixed point outside her door, sometimes there were frequent patrols, which sometimes became even more frequent.” he said.
When asked whether she ever requested protection, Rizzo said “I don’t think she asked for it. There were times when it annoyed her, if I remember well, and that is why I order frequent patrols. I cannot be precise with types of protection we gave her in which periods.”
He said that a number of people were given protection, and that such decisions were not orders from the government at the time. There was not a specific protocol that used to be followed to decide who deserves protection and not.
Rizzo stated several times during his testimony that Caruana Galizia had protection at the point when he was no longer commissioner. “However, when it ended, I do not know,” he said. When the Labour Party won the 2013 general elections, he got a phone call from Muscat asking whether Bidnija was “ok”. “At first I didn’t know that he was referring to Caruana Galizia, but then I realised and told him yes, rest assured there is protection.”
Rizzo said there was no interference from the government when it came to investigations, saying they had the “absolute liberty to do what we felt needed to be done”. He also stressed that he never consulted with the prime minister at the time over any cases.
Asked whether he used to investigate all the allegations published by Caruana Galizia in her blog, Rizzo confirmed it was the case. “The police have the obligation and duty to investigate every case that comes up either through anonymous information or through a complaint or a journalist’s report,” he said.
Asked what he used to do with Financial Intelligence and Analysis Unit reports, Rizzo said he would “pass them on to be investigated straight away.”
Rizzo pointed out that former EU Commissioner John Dalli had come back to Malta a week after he was removed from the role as commissioner. At that time Dalli was linked to a number of corruption scandals and Rizzo had decided to pursue a criminal case against him for Dalli’s involvement in an alleged €60 million bribe from Swedish Match, the main producer of Swedish snus.
“We could not pursue the case because he was in Brussels,” he said. “We were waiting for him to come back to Malta but was told he came back the week after I was removed from my position.”
The police had enough information to take Dalli to court. “In the meeting (with Foreign Affairs Minister Manuel Mallia) I made it clear that we had enough evidence to prosecute John Dalli,” he said.