Probe into police failings in Iosif Galea case to be led by retired judge previously slated for ‘whitewashing’

One of Depasquale's past inquiries was slammed as a 'travesty of justice'


Tista’ taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti hawn.

The appointment of retired Judge Franco Depasuale to investigate possible police failures over the absconding of gambling consultant Iosif Galea while under a European Arrest Warrant was greeted with scepticism and sarcasm in legal and law enforcement quarters: Depasquale has previously been involved in several ‘inquiries’ criticised as “whitewashing” by both Labour and PN administrations.

Depasquale, who retired from the bench almost 20 years ago and is now 84 years old, has in the past been slated for his conclusions in two particular inquiries – one held under the PN administration and the other under Labour – which were described by critics as attempts to exonerate those in power.

The choice of Michael Cassar to assist Depasquale has further eroded any trust in the ongoing inquiry. Cassar is a former Police Commissioner appointed by the Labour government who then resigned after receiving a report about alleged money laundering involving the then OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri. He then went on to serve as a government consultant.

Research conducted by The Shift shows that soon after Depasquale retired from the bench in 2003, the PN government at the time had appointed him to investigate the alleged excessive use of force by the Armed Forces accused of beating migrants in a detention centre during a protest.

In his findings, harshly criticised by NGOs and human rights organisations, Depasquale had exonerated the AFM and justified their use of force. With minor exceptions, Depasquale had not found anyone specifically responsible for the beatings. He argued that most of the soldiers involved wore helmets and could not be identified.

Both the Labour Party and the Green Party in opposition at the time had called the Depasquale inquiry a whitewashing exercise.

Similarly, soon after Labour was swept to power in 2013 when as Chair of the Police Board – a position Depasquale still occupies to this day – the retired judge had investigated a ‘mistake’ made by the police in arraigning the wrong person over a theft – a certain Darryl Luke Borg from Birkirkara.

In his findings, Depasquale had placed the blame on the inspector who eventually managed to solve the case instead of other officers who had ‘mistakenly’ charged a different person in court.

The Opposition leader at the time, Simon Busuttil, had called the results of the inquiry “a travesty of justice”.

“I do not blame the board. I blame the prime minister who appointed the board and instead of being asked to investigate the person who made a mistake it was instructed to investigate the person who remedied the mistake. This is unbelievable,” Busuttil had said about the conclusions of the Depasquale inquiry.

Despite his advanced age, Franco Depasquale is one of a small pool of retired judges appointed by Labour whenever an ‘independent’ inquiry looking into the actions of government or any of its authorities is required.

The restricted pool includes also retired Judges Philip Sciberras and Lawrence Quintano. 

Other judges or former chief justices who retired later and who are known for their no-nonsense attitude have never been nominated by the government to conduct any of its inquiries. 

The only exception was former Chief Justice Joseph Said Pullicino who was nominated to the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry only after the assassinated journalist’s family objected to the government’s nomination of another of its inquiry favourites, Ian Refalo.


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1 year ago

Just further proof that the “ untouchables “ will remain that when they get to nominate who sits on every single investigation committee they instigate.

Thick as thieves one and all.

1 year ago
Reply to  James


is a name for people belonging to the lowest stratum castes.

1 year ago

Deadly Government Games:

Isn’t it the case that a committee of inquiry is normally formed together with the opposition? This would include all party representatives and at least one neutral person.

Malta is different: Lackeys and yes-men to “protect” the evil undertakings.

This is really a disgrace for Malta!

Francis Said
Francis Said
1 year ago

Good head of hair at 84 years old. Unbelievable for the greed of some people to earn a few thousand euros.

Last edited 1 year ago by Francis Said
Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
1 year ago

This is why ethics and independence have become shit, and perks have become like coins of silver for corrupt masters to achieve their pre-determined objectives.
Recalling the strong statemrnt of advice given by Judge Emeritus J Said Pullicino, to students of law, makes me wonder whether such students can look upon many professionsals in their field and other fields, not least the judiciary, past and present, to appreciate ethics and independence for a just society.

Joseph Licari
1 year ago

In his findings, harshly criticised by NGOs and human rights organisations,….”. You do not seem to have read Depasquale’s report. If you did, or if you do, you would not be quoting what NGOs said. One of Depasquale’s conclusions emerges repeatedly between the lines. The riot was organised – not as a riot but as a media event – by an NGO. The person who organised it could not control it from outside and the ‘demonstration’ or media event, blew up into a riot. The person who organised it was quickly sent abroad by his superiors, supposedly for treatment of some health problem, but when he came back he was not re-instated in his post of director of the NGO. One of the facts emerging from Depasquale’s report is that journalists had been informed beforehand of the ‘demonstration’ – they arrived as soon as it started and a television cameraman probably arrived before. But my point is simple – don’t be lazy, go and read the report for yourself. It’s almost 100 pages long but that is no justification for throwing mud blindly.

joe tedesco
joe tedesco
1 year ago


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