Is Angelo Gafa above the law?

Former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar threw away the rule book when selecting assistant commissioners. Rather than follow Public Services Commission procedures around seniority and experience, the country’s top cop chose to promote people he trusted personally.

His cavalier dismissal of established rules in 2016 resulted in protests being filed with ombudsman Anthony Mifsud by those who felt they’d been deliberately overlooked.

The ombudsman agreed with their claims, describing the process as “defective”.

Superintendent Raymond D’Anastas, a man with an impeccable track record and four decades of service, was passed over in favour of Mario Tonna, an officer with a long history of disciplinary proceedings — including allegedly harassing a superior in 2008 — and a guilty verdict in a criminal case.

Tonna should have been turfed from the force, but he was given a conditional discharge. He got himself back on promotion track after Labour was elected to power, applying for superintendent in August 2015. His dismal record should have automatically disqualified him from the selection process for assistant commissioner. But hey, Lorry Cutajar trusted him.

Tonna would be forced to resign in January 2018 after allegedly head-butting his wife in a drunken argument. He was acquitted of domestic abuse when the main witness refused to testify. A couple of months later, the beleaguered ex-cop on a bender allegedly sped off after smashing into several cars. He was acquitted then, too, despite allegedly failing a breathalyzer test.

Lawrence Cutajar threw away the rulebook and acted on instinct. Far from ensuring transparency, the selection board he chaired had failed to give a detailed explanation as to why certain individuals were chosen while others were not.

It sounds like a clear cut case of injustice, doesn’t it? The same sort of corrupt promotion process that fast-tracked Joseph Muscat’s friend to the head of the Armed Forces.

“Had the selection process been done properly,” the ombudsman’s report said, “excluding certain people who were not the right ones for the job, maybe the complainant would have stood a chance of being chosen.”

Cutajar was a career bumbler, a man noted for conspicuous inaction when it came to top level corruption. His utter failure to do anything about the Panama papers despite being handed an evidence-filled report by former FIAU head Manfred Galdes turned him into a national disgrace.

His decision to eat rabbit with his buddies while Ali Sadr walked away with two bulging bags believed to contain damning evidence of Malta’s most heinous political scandal made him into a laughing stock.

Angelo Gafa was Robert Abela’s answer to all that. One of the first actions he took as prime minister was to ask for Cutajar’s resignation.

Unfortunately, the no-longer-new police commissioner is proving to be a chip off the old blockhead.

Gafa and Home Affairs Ministry permanent secretary Kevin Mahoney responded to the ombudsman’s report by dismissing it. The entire promotion process had adhered to Public Service Commission procedures, they wrote. But they’ll think about issuing a fresh call for applications for the post as recommended by the ombudsman.

In case the implications are not blindingly clear, I’ll spell it out for you. Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa is dismissing the ruling of an independent institution established by the constitution because he personally disagrees with its findings.

He’ll decide how and when the law applies to his police department, thanks very much. But don’t worry, the institutions are functioning (more or less).

In the meantime, money is still being thrown hand over fist into the fiscal black holes of Electrogas and Vitals, despite detailed evidence of rampant corruption that’s been public for years.

There’s no sign of criminal investigations, and the politicians involved continue to walk free. It isn’t even enough to be named in connection with a bank robbery by a career-criminal-turned-State’s-witness.

Gafa promised imminent arrests in the case of the notorious Pilatus bank, a dodgy enterprise seemingly set up to launder money on a massive scale, and then months passed with nothing to show for it. When charges were finally filed, police indicted Claude-Anne Sant Fournier, the bank’s former Head of Compliance.

What of the directors? What of owner Ali Sadr? Not a whisper.

The police commissioner can’t even seem to clean up his own tarnished house. Heard much about the notorious police traffic cop scandal lately? Me neither.

Like his inept puppet predecessor, Comissioner Gafa seems to be sitting on all the same cases, taking action against the small fry only when action has become unavoidable.

The untouchables remain untouchable — at least, in Malta. And so the nation is collectively punished for the impunity established by the twice-elected Joseph Muscat and his chosen successor.

The Council of Europe sent a special rapporteur to figure out what was going on with the EU’s stubborn problem child. Rule of law missions were dispatched, and dismissed. When the country’s law enforcement officials refused to clean up the rot — because that would involve prosecuting top politicians — the international financial world responded with further isolation.

Malta was grey listed by the FATF, listed as a high-risk terrorist financing and money laundering threat by the UK, cut off from US dollar correspondent banking networks, and its main bank was abandoned by Mastercard. Unfortunately, the problems are only beginning.

Angelo Gafa could stop at least some of the fallout by showing a willingness to prosecute crooked politicians, dirty cops, and civil servants on the take. Instead, he seems to be shielding the very same people Joseph Muscat placed above the law, including the former prime minister himself.

His cavalier dismissal of the ombudsman reveals that he doesn’t even feel bound to follow the law when it comes to running his own department.

 

                           
                               
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saviour mamo
saviour mamo
1 month ago

Someone must have advised police commissioner Angelo Gafa and and the Home Affairs permanent secretary Mahoney to dismiss the Ombudsman’s report in that manner. I wonder who. Can the aggrieved persons take the case to lawcourts?

James
James
1 month ago

I couldn’t have put it better myself!

Simon Oosterman
Simon Oosterman
1 month ago

Many felt that the post of CEO was created to have a backup when Cutajar was no longer tenable. His subsequent selection seemed to show they were right and his performance has proved it. He too is a ‘continuity’ person.

doreen
doreen
1 month ago

all true but we need to know the way forward. we must get to the streets again, seems that is the only way they listen !!!!!

Alexander
Alexander
1 month ago

I never trusted this person even when he was still a Police Inspector. You can judge the person by the following;

When he was not a Police Commissioner he pushed for the creation of a CEO position within the Police Force.

When he became Police Commissioner he decided that there is no need for a CEO position within the corps.

Nothing more to add!!!!

Ġwanni Fenek
Ġwanni Fenek
1 month ago

Il-ġustizzja f’Malta indipendenti qatt ma qabdet. Taħt l-ebda gvern. Imma meta jkun hemm il-Laburisti mat-tmun tal-pajjiż, il-ġustizzja ssir iktar farseska minn qatt qabel.

emanuel scerri
emanuel scerri
1 month ago

From grey to black

Carmelo Borg
1 month ago

Gafa naqra naqra qed titlef l irgulija qed titlef ir rispett li sa issa the man in the street kellu lejk ibda minnu. Jekk tibqa sejjer hekk mur jul il fniek ma ta qablek.

Gee Mike
Gee Mike
1 month ago

Never expect any improvement from Lejber except for PR. Excellent article.

Cikku Poplu
Cikku Poplu
1 month ago

Jien ma nhares lejn wicc hadd!

joe tedesco
joe tedesco
1 month ago

POLITICAL INTERFERENCE HAS DESTROYED
THE COUNTRY BEYOND REDEMPTION.

Chris
Chris
1 month ago

Most definitely a blockhead who does not seem to be aware that Malta is not a separate constellation from the rest of the planet. Any inaction and omission on his part has consequences beyond these shores.
Yes Gafà, you’re an absolute blockhead.

Henry Azzopardi
1 month ago

Well one knew straight off when Gafa was made Police Commissioner by Abela, that like his predecessor Cutajar, Gafa was going to be another Prime Minister’s puppet and the sole reason Gafa hasn’t arrested the criminals in Muscat’s and Abela’s Governments because he been ordered too, and surely that would have brought this corrupt Government down.

robert smith
robert smith
1 month ago

Very informative and a good reading. The country is falling into pieces.

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