A Maltese whodunit

The ‘Cyrus Engerer’ saga is a typical Maltese whodunit. More so, it is par for the course for all sorts of conspiracy theories. I normally ignore these fictitious stories behind the stories but this time around I cannot resist playing detective!

Opinion featured on Sunday's edition of MaltaToday

The salient points of this sorry story are these:

  • 15 July: Cyrus Engerer resigns from PN and joins PL
  • 19 July: Chris Engerer (Cyrus’s father) is arrested and has his home searched for drugs. Story is reported onMaltaToday on Sunday, 24 July.
  • 25 July: Police file charges against Cyrus Engerer following a report made by a former boyfriend. Story is reported on The Times the next day.

Let us consider different ‘pistes’, as true investigators call their lines of reasoning.

The first one is the obvious one: the government is using the police force to persecute the Engerers following Cyrus’s defection to the party in Opposition. This is too obvious, of course. Assuming this is what happened also means that the boys at Castille are even sillier than anyone thought they were; giving Cyrus Engerer more publicity than he ever deserved and surely more than the PN wanted at this stage. The negative reaction at the publication of the story about his father last Sunday should have alerted them and made them realise that they were doing more harm than good to their cause. How come then that the Police file charges against Cyrus Engerer on Monday and somehow the story makes it to The Times the next day? Would not any simple-minded fellow realise that this would provoke even more anti-PN reaction, as in fact it did? I know that the boys in Castille sometimes act silly and make ridiculous mistakes but this is sillier than plain stupid. I cannot buy this story.

Then there is the version of the Commissioner of Police. According to him, the Police were investigating both cases before the Cyrus Engerer political defection and the dates of their two very serious actions were just a coincidence, as the Police carry out their duty without any consideration of the political circumstances prevalent at the time! Coincidence, my foot, I would say! Nobody believes the ‘coincidence’ theory and nobody will believe it even if the Police Commissioner keeps on repeating it until he becomes hoarse and speechless. Many are actually speechless at his ‘explanation’.

Nobody can understand, either, how a journalist for The Times got to know about the charge against Cyrus Engerer and see it on the day it was filed in Court. How could he know about this and go and look for it without direct or indirect information from someone in the Police Force?

The truth is that the Commissioner – let alone the Minister responsible for the Police – learnt of the two actions after they happened and he accepted the explanations he was given: all in the line of our sacrosanct duty, Sir! Now the Commissioner himself may be the paragon of integrity but he is wrong to assume that his integrity reflects the integrity of all his officers. Behind the persons who decided to take these actions, there was someone who chose the dates with malice aforethought, and it is very short-sighted of the Commissioner not to realise this.

The Police force is a mixed bunch, as all police forces are all over the world. There are the good guys and the bad guys, the ‘Politically’ motivated ones with a big ‘P’ and the ‘politically’ motivated ones with a small ‘p’, meaning the internal politics where police are for or against the present Commissioner and already pushing for someone else to replace him. Playing opossum about this situation as the Commissioner of Police and the responsible minister have been doing for so long is short-sighted and leads to the sort of embarrassment that they have had to endure.

To be sure, the minister’s ‘hands off the police’ way of doing things, leaving everything in the good hands of the Police Commissioner – which is the extreme opposite of interfering with the running of the force – has only led to a series of embarrassments that the present administration certainly did not need. I can mention several infamous ‘independent’ police actions: the charges against a number of foreign night-club pole dancers; the charge against the author of the short story ‘Litkisser sewwi’ and against the editor who published it; the absolutely unnecessary strip search of Sliema Labour Councillor Martin Debono; the narrow-minded interpretation of a legal notice that led to the banning of the sale of alcohol in open air concerts; the arbitrary arrest of Libyans protesting in front of their country’s embassy and their being charged in Court with urgency; the way that the processing of visas is handled; and other instances that do not cross my mind at the time of writing. The police force has embarrassed this administration over and over again and now, the government has had to suffer the ultimate embarrassment.

Within the police force there are those for whom loyalty to their political party comes first and foremost, and nothing comes sweeter than embarrassing the present administration while ostensibly acting within their line of duty. The problem is that in the Cyrus Engerer case, it is the timing that has embarrassed the administration and the timing is not justified by the line of duty excuse. Nor can it result from stupidity.

The internal politics of the police force are also worth digging into. There is a faction that is already working in favour of an officer who they tout as the replacement of the present Commissioner, especially if this move happens after the expected change of government in the next elections. It is also in its interest to put the present Commissioner in a situation where he is perceived to be continually embarrassing the administration which trusts him blindly.

Whether the motivation was simply a plain political one intended to embarrass the government, or whether there was also the sub-plot involving the embarrassment of the Police Commissioner himself, the dates of the two police actions – the arrest of Chris Engerer and the filing of charges against Cyrus Engerer – are no mere coincidences.

They are the end result of the inept way in which consecutive Ministers responsible for the Police have been refusing to handle the Police. Ironically, the administration has been hoisted with its own petard. Acting as if there is nothing wrong with the Police Force – when this was obviously not the truth – has led to the present situation.

No amount judges heading inquiries will solve this whodunit.

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Has every one forgotten ? When the present Commissioner of Police was elevated to the post, a very prominent female journalist immediately showed her disapprobation. And several incidents from Labour's past were highlighted.
Very very difficult to believe these (not this) events were coincidences (No I do not believe the Commissioner of Police) ...the move/s seem/s to indicate a party machine that needed to vent its frustrated self, even if on an insignificant minion, having had its hands full with demanding backbenchers and been repeatedly held at ransom by present untouchables like JPO and Mugliett.
Ghaliex qed tissorprendu ruhkhom b dawn il mossi politici ta gonzipn? dawn taht il madmad tad demokristjani ta. kuragg cyrus.
Why go for the convoluted explanation when a simpler one will suffice? Just to make sure that the Pl is depicted as the villain of the piece? Our local Deep Throat is almost certainly an official with strong Nationalist leanings who was livid at Cyrus Engerer's decision to change sides and wanted revenge.
Andu ragun Michael Falzon u meta tisma' din minghand ex Ministru bilfors li jkun hemm il-fatti vera. Jaf ezatt li meta xi hadd ma jaqbilx mal-PARTIT li jkun jghamel parti minnu jew izjed u izjed li jmur mal-partit oppost tkun qisek Kristu fil-film The Passion of Christ. L-ewwel ifficulek sa l-antenati, jsalbuk anke ma zokk ta' suffarina bid-differenza li hadd u qatt ma tkun taf minn l-liema Kupola harget l-ordni ghal-flagellazzjoni u kollox mitmum. M'ghandek l-ebda cans li tiffranka ghax b'semplici kelma Malta kollha tkun taf fuqek...tispicca titkellem wahdek, bi break down u anke l-familjari tieghek. U jekk jaqbduk b'semplici nofs joint jghamlu festa ohra bik fil-qorti jekk qabel ma jkunux qalulek li hemm gew ma jibzawx minn l-ebda ministru!!! So who do you think whodunit!!!!
Could this be a possible warning for any would be defectors? 'If you cross the line we would see if there are skeletons in your cupboard and then mercilessly send the bloodhounds to sniff you out!
Veru kultant jinfaqa wkoll dan Mikel "tal-IVA" taghhom imma jibqa xorta jbengililhom xi naqra, ghax kieku ( u tghidlniex li nsieha din tufx?)kien jitlob spjegazzjioni il-ghula l-pulizija hudet pussi issa kontra duk il-bicca ta' tifel u mhux meta kien ghodu meghhom, iktar minn sena ilu? Huma qulu ghax kienu mghebbjin bix-xoghol......jekk temmen din tkun vera Gahan....... Imma nsomma tajjeb u hazin, qalalhom ukoll allovolja pezza wahda dun maghhom tufx?
Joseph Sant
BTW if you think the boys at Castille are stupid if they did instigate this then I'm afraid you are less of a chess player than I thought you were. Yes, this might appear stupid but the point of it is not to nail Cyrus Engerer. Mr Engerer is spilt milk at this stage. The move was not to frighten him but to act as a warning to others who may have been considering defecting as well. The Cyrus case puts the lid on that. So, all in all, another clever maneuver to control damage. No sir, not stupid at all.
Joseph Sant
I'm sorry I cannot agree with you about the non-interference from Castille or at least some ministry Mr Falzon. For instance, let us assume the police did act independently in booking Camilleri and Vella Gera over the Realty story. How do you explain the fact that the Attorney General appealed after the case was dismissed by the Magistrate's court. Don't tell me that the Attorney General was also politically motivated and acting independently. I just don't buy that.
I am confused...the commissioner of police said that EGC had asked him something for which he replied he will not do...but on the Sunday Times it was reported the PM would sack EGC if he did not phone the COP...hawadni ha nifhem!!
Dr Falzon you just right! your pen was clear enough. The network in Malta fot the last years it got no limits and privacy for common people is no more private; people are very fustraited and anger is getting bigger when we are seeing certain obvios things happens around us! Things are so clear now!THEY ARE ARROGANT AND NOW EVEN STUPID!
Good analysis but you forgot to mention that Cyrus's case was shelved for more than 18 months and only appeared after his defection. As long as he was speaking for the PN the commissioner did not find it necessary to charge him and only after it appears that he was complaining against the party whilst forming part of it he was called in for interrogation. Maybe it was a sort "Better button up or else" which infact resulted in an "or else"