High ranking police sources and candidates who threw their names in the hat for the role of police commissioner expressed surprise at the news that Angelo Gafa’ was chosen as the most qualified candidate, especially since the interviews were concluded last Thursday.
Speaking to The Shift on condition of anonymity, a number of candidates who had submitted their nominations for the post said they were taken aback at the news that Gafa, who is the present CEO of the police force, as well as another unnamed person, were shortlisted as the two main candidates by Cabinet.
The Shift revealed on Sunday that the post was destined for Gafa from the start, confirmed by current and former senior police officers. A few hours later, the government announced that he was the preferred choice among two shortlisted candidates.
No one had informed applicants for the post that this decision had been taken, telling The Shift they had learnt of the news from the media that reported the statement by the Department of Information.
They also questioned the speed at the sequence of events: “The interviews finished on Thursday – was there a Cabinet meeting over the weekend to decide this?”
The statement was issued on Monday afternoon, announcing that the Public Service Commission had “unanimously” shortlisted two candidates following a public call and evaluation of applications for the position, which was vacated by Lawrence Cutajar in January.
Gafà must now sit for a hearing before the Parliamentary Committee for Public Appointments.
The announcement confirms The Shift’s report that Gafa was the firm favourite for the position among the candidates who had put their names forward for the role.
“It is an open secret that the present CEO, Gafa, is the preferred choice for the sake of ‘continuity’. Three years ago, the role of CEO was created for him, although it was opposed by his mentor, then Commissioner Michael Cassar,” police sources told The Shift.
Minister Carmelo Abela still went ahead and appointed Gafa to the post. “As CEO, he delivered next to nothing… If Gafa was the CEO of any company he would have been fired unceremoniously by the Board of Directors or, in this case, by the Home Affairs Ministry,” they said.
Cutajar resigned from his position as police commissioner following years of accusations by members of civil society that had failed to take action and investigate top government officials following the Panama Papers revelations, on reports from the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, and then following the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
He was given a consultancy job with the government on the same day that he resigned.
In February, Special Rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt called on the Maltese government to seek parliamentary consensus on the appointment of the new police commissioner in order to help rebuild trust in the Malta police force and “work towards ending impunity”.