Updated to include action taken following criticism of Gabriel Micallef’s appointment.
The man reportedly appointed to head the traffic police unit following the scandal on police fraud is Gabriel Micallef, dismissed from the force in November 2017.
Micallef was dismissed for letting a man who had just been sentenced to jail walk out of court and go to prison by bus. Those sentenced to prison are usually escorted by the police.
The police inspector’s decision was in breach of procedure, which exists for the obvious reason that anyone would prefer to take a bus to Golden Bay rather than to Corradino.
The Malta Police Association had petitioned former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, then responsible for the Public Service Commission, to have the termination reversed. Micallef was reinstated in 2018.
Nearly three-quarters of Malta’s traffic police force, including its chief, have been arrested for suspected overtime fraud, after an anonymous tip-off from a whistleblower. None of those investigated has yet been charged in court.
The whistleblower has been hunted down by colleagues, while the unit remains in disarray. The resignations of some police officers were accepted even though they are still under investigation, in a move that experts said was highly suspicious.
Micallef was named as the new Head of the police traffic unit in a report by Net News. There has been no official announcement of Micallef’s new position so far, but the gaffe by Micallef sending a criminal to jail by bus was not the only dent on his record.
In 2014, Micallef was at the centre of a scandal over his involvement in the investigations into the shooting incident involving former Home Affairs Minister Manuel Mallia’s driver. Daphne Caruana Galizia had exposed him.
“It was confirmed this morning that the inspector who is out on police bail for tampering with evidence at the scene of the crime is indeed Inspector Gabriel Micallef,” she had reported in December 2014 when Micallef was the Head of the Drugs Squad.
Micallef, one of several officers suspected of requesting footage of the shooting, was on forced leave pending the inquiry that had cost Mallia his ministerial job.
A day following the publication of this article, The Times of Malta reported that Micallef was relieved from the position soon after being appointed, due to criticism about his colourful history in the force. Inspector Edmond Cuschieri will lead the section.