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frank_psaila
Frank Psaila

In free fall without a parachute

The recent spate of car bombs has so far gone unchecked because the police force is bereft of senior investigators who, in other circumstances, would have brought the perpetrators to justice

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila
20 February 2017, 8:23pm
The cause is organised crime: gangs fighting each other over who is to control supply of drugs, money laundering and fuel smuggling
The cause is organised crime: gangs fighting each other over who is to control supply of drugs, money laundering and fuel smuggling
Like the absolute majority of Maltese citizens, I’m shocked, angry and afraid that organised crime – manifested with car bombs, is on the increase, and worse, unchecked.

This morning, I was minutes away from the Msida junction where a car blew up, when a meeting I had got cancelled and diverted to a different route. Others were not that lucky, a few got injured whilst many others witnessed what must have been a traumatic experience of a car ripped apart by a powerful blast with its driver losing both legs. The victim, we are told, is a hardened criminal.

Let’s not beat around the bush: the police force is in free fall without a parachute. The recent spate of car bombs has so far gone unchecked because the police force is bereft of senior investigators who, in other circumstances, would have brought the perpetrators to justice. 

The savage killings of the past months, often through the use of car bombs threaten Malta's reputation as a safe country for tourists and its citizens. They highlight serious concerns about rampant organised crime that lurk behind Malta's reputation as a safe country.

"The state’s first duty is the safety of its citizens"
The cause is organised crime: gangs fighting each other over who is to control supply of drugs, money laundering and fuel smuggling. The unfortunate thing is that our police force does not have the necessary investigative and operational expertise required to combat this type of crime.

In barely four years, five Police Commissioners have been appointed; senior police officers resigned, only to be replaced by new, inexperienced or unqualified police officers. Police Minister Carmelo Abela, who, admittedly found a force in disarray, when he took over following Manuel Mallia’s resignation, said that he is ‘angry’ and ‘shocked’ following today’s car bomb incident at one of Malta’s busiest traffic junctions in broad daylight. I don’t expect him to be otherwise. So are the people, who apart from being shocked and angered are afraid.

However, what distinguishes the Minister from the people is that the former is expected to take action and stop this downward trend: starting from the police force of which he is politically responsible. I hope that Minister Abela is aware that people aren’t angry only at the brutal perpetrators of these atrocious crimes.

They are angry at the authorities who have, so far, failed to bring the culprits to justice and put as stop to these mafia-style vendettas. Many, and rightly so, find it hard to comprehend how in a small country as is ours these criminals continue to have the upper hand and strike fear at the heart of the nation through their barbaric actions. Violence of this kind is clearly intolerable.

The state’s first duty is the safety of its citizens. Unfortunately, the police force, despite the hard work of many of its officers, is unable to protect citizens because its leadership is weak and lacks the required expertise. True, no police force is expected to eliminate organised crime – but it is expected to diminish it significantly. 

Currently, Malta lacks policing of the highest expertise and professionalism. Tomorrow, a Cabinet of Ministers’ meeting is expected to be followed by the announcement of measures to combat organised crime. Any steps in this regard are of course welcomed, and long dues. However, people expect not words, but a plan for reform and recovery and with a clear timetable for Malta’s police force.

It is often said, that partisan politics is rife within the force and the reason why so many talented officers called it a day. As long as this situation persists, merciless killers continue to get the upper hand and people continue to live in fear.

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila, a lawyer by profession, anchors Iswed fuq l-Abjad on Net TV. He was formerly...
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