After the Ombudsman ruled that Superintendent Ray D’Anastas was unjustly passed over for promotion in “a parody of a selection process” led by former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar, the officer described how “completely humiliated” he felt in June 2017, when 11 assistant commissioners were officially appointed before him in spite of his achievements.
“I was kind of embarrassed to be out with people because I felt like I had to justify why I wasn’t promoted with every person I met. My mind was thinking about this all the time,” D’Anastas told The Shift in an interview, explaining that this had already happened once in 2013 with an additional six officers receiving the promotion before him.
“I’d be speaking to people in my office and I’d be constantly wondering whether they know I wasn’t promoted because of an unfair process, and not because I’m not good at my job. I started getting obsessed over it, even though I managed to keep doing my job throughout all of this,” he added.
D’Anastas joined the police corps in December 1979, and is known in particular for being one of the only officers to ever have been awarded the Crime Reduction Shield award three times, as well as for being one of the longest-serving officers to be deployed in St Julian’s, a locality known as a flash point for police intervention.
He recalled confronting former Commissioner Cutajar in his office shortly after the police force’s internal promotions board, chaired by Cutajar, had refused D’Anastas’ application for the role of assistant commissioner.
“I asked him to give me one valid reason why I was not made assistant commissioner. He told me that it was in the past, now, and I told him that they had broken me with what they did. He just changed the subject and we did not really talk about it,” D’Anastas said.
“I am mentioning him specifically because he was the chairman of the board who said that he promoted the other officers because they were persons of trust. I don’t care why he took the decision, but he is the one responsible for it,” he added.
Asked what his next steps will be after the Ombudsman’s ruling in his favour, D’Anastas stated that he is seeking financial compensation equivalent to the income he would have made had he been promoted to assistant commissioner, as well as an official acknowledgement from the force that he was unjustly dismissed.
On 19 October, Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa’ categorically rejected the Ombudsman’s findings, along with an official statement from the home affairs ministry echoing the same sentiment.
“The Ombudsman had recommended that they re-issue applications for the position of assistant commissioner, or, failing that, that I be awarded €15,000 in compensation. I feel like that’s not enough,” D’Anastas argued.
“So my lawyer, David Bonello, and myself, decided instead to evaluate our legal options,” he added.
‘Zero faith’ in current administration
Asked for his assessment on the leadership of the police force, D’Anastas unequivocally stated that he has “zero faith in the current administration”.
“I could have applied for an extra year of work since I’m 63 years old, but I couldn’t do it, mainly because of members of the higher echelons of the force,” he said, claiming not much had changed since former Commissioner Cutajar stepped down under pressure following his failure to prosecute high-profile corruption cases.
D’Anastas also referred to the police force’s re-issuance of the call for the position of assistant commissioner, describing it as “tailor-made”. The Malta police union echoed D’Anastas’ sentiment, describing it as “discriminatory” due to the specific requirements attached with the call, and lodged a formal trade dispute.
“They issued this call while we are unable to apply for it, apart from totally rejecting the conclusions of the Ombudsman’s report. They said they’re evaluating the report but there’s nothing to evaluate because the Ombudsman already took four years to get to this conclusion,” D’Anastas said.
“I should be at a point where I am proud of my service, not feeling like this instead. I am doing this for myself because I was proud to be an officer,” he added.