Ramona Attard, Labour Party president, regaled us with more pearls of wisdom: “This government strengthened the institutions in an unprecedented way”. In her article ‘Moving Forward, not Back’, published in The Times of Malta, Attard paints a grotesquely comical illusion: “We have a government that makes its decisions based on core principles and values”.
We have seen enough to know what Labour’s core principles and values are. Cronyism, corruption, nepotism, fraud, profiteering and greed. Secretiveness, stealth, furtiveness, deceit, dishonesty, duplicity and slyness. Examples of how Labour put these principles into practice abound. Attard’s hollow claim that institutions were “strengthened in an unprecedented way” is the quintessence of Labour’s distortion and mendacity.
Nowhere is that claim more bogus than in the dark tale of Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar.
Police investigations on Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder were grudgingly plodding along, to the deep consternation of Interpol. After much pressure, the murder investigators agreed to arrest Melvin Theuma – the murder middleman, also involved in money laundering, illegal gambling and loan sharking. As final preparations were put in place, Police Commissioner Cutajar held a secret meeting with Edgar Brincat, il-Ġojja, at the Commissioner’s private residence in Luqa.
Il-Ġojja, a close friend and confidant of Theuma, owns Brincat Auto Imports. Theuma’s VAT number was registered at the address of Brincat’s showroom in Pieta’. Brincat had coached Theuma on recording conversations with Yorgen Fenech and on what to say and do.
Commissioner Cutajar had known Brincat for over 30 years. As inspector, he had carried out an inspection on Brincat’s business in Wied il-Buni – and struck up a lifelong friendship. That friendship was so close that Brincat, the middleman’s advisor, simply turned up at the Police Commissioner’s private residence. The pretext for Cutajar’s secret meeting with Brincat was that he needed a favour from Cutajar – a traffic fine required waiving. The proximity and intimacy displayed by the car dealer, linked to hardened criminals, with the police commissioner are staggering.
Cutajar admitted not only meeting il-Ġojja but discussing Theuma. Cutajar revealed inside information to the middleman’s confidant. He informed il-Ġojja that the police knew about Theuma’s incriminating recordings. The Commissioner also revealed to il-Ġojja that Theuma was under investigation for Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder and the subject of a money laundering probe. So what advice did Cutajar give il-Ġojja about his traffic fine? According to the Commissioner, he only advised him to get a lawyer.
Cutajar did not seek the approval of the investigating team before meeting il-Ġojja. Nor did he bother to inform them. When the investigators found out, they were incensed. Why was the Commissioner meeting the middleman’s close friend in secret? The investigators issued the Commissioner a strict warning not to contact il-Ġojja again.
What did the Commissioner do? Only 10 days later, when the investigative team finally agreed on a date to arrest Theuma, Cutajar met il-Ġojja again. Immediately after, Theuma’s daily routine changed, raising concerns that he was tipped off. He most certainly was. Theuma’s arrest had to be brought forward to 5 November 2019 – 11 days earlier than originally planned.
Again Cutajar failed to reveal his second meeting to the investigators. Shamelessly he commented: “I didn’t feel the need to inform the investigators”.
Theuma knew about his arrest well in advance. He had been planning his strategy to use his recorded conversations to bolster his request for a presidential pardon. When the taxi driver was arrested, over €600,000 in cash was found in his home. He owned property worth €2 million. Commissioner Cutajar, the close friend of il-Ġojja, himself the intimate friend of Theuma, went on to recommend a presidential pardon for Theuma.
Cutajar wasn’t done. On 14 June 2020, the night before testifying in the compilation of evidence against Yorgen Fenech, Cutajar called il-Ġojja and spent 14 minutes on the phone with him.
The Commissioner was challenged by journalists – why did you call him? Cutajar’s pathetic answer was, “I do not remember why I called him”. Did you try to align your version of events? “I cannot remember, I would have told him to say nothing but the truth,” Cutajar claimed.
Cutajar’s devious and clandestine contact with il-Ġojja is unpardonable. Yet Cutajar claimed that his intentions were good. “I felt at that moment that I should take the chance”. His sole intention was to obtain Theuma’s recordings he insisted.
Cutajar was also leaking details of planned police raids to Joseph Muscat’s security member Kenneth Camilleri, through whom they reached the intended target Melvin Theuma.
That Cutajar’s judgment is suspect is in no doubt. He even defended his deputy, and Yorgen Fenech travel buddy, Silvio Valletta: “I always saw him as a person of integrity”. That accolade is worthless coming from the police commissioner who saw no wrong in welcoming associates of criminals to his private residence to tip them off about secret police investigations.
When Edwin Brincat, il-Ġojja, was interrogated by police and confronted with his tapped phone conversations with Theuma, Brincat refused to answer any questions. He even refused to have a lawyer accompany him although he was offered a “Labour lawyer”.
Ironically, Commissioner Cutajar asserted that “the slightest misplaced word can prejudge an investigation”. What would two secret meetings and a 14 minute conversation between the police commissioner and the middleman’s ally do to an investigation then?
Joseph Muscat’s appointment of Lawrence Cutajar was his way of “strengthening the institutions in an unprecedented way”. Robert Abela rewarded Cutajar with a consultancy post in public safety earning €31,000 per year and the use of a car, demonstrating that Labour bases its decisions on its own “core principles and values”.
On 15 June 2020, the court ordered former police commissioner Cutajar be investigated for tipping off the middleman about active investigations. The prime minister was forced to terminate Cutajar’s plum consultancy post. Commissioner Cutajar was surprised: “How can you terminate my consultancy?” He was only doing Labour’s bidding.