Police Commissioner tells inquiry, motive for Caruana Galizia murder still unclear

Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa tells the public inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia the motive for the murder is still not clear and investigations are ongoing

Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà
Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà

The motive for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia is still not clear despite the arraignments, Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa has told the public inquiry.

Gafa was testifying on Friday morning in front of three judges tasked with the public inquiry into the murder.

Four men have so far been charged with the murder – George Degiorgio, Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat stand charged with carrying out the assassination and Yorgen Fenech with commissioning the crime. A fifth person, Melvin Theuma, who acted as a middleman, was given a presidential pardon to tell all.

Gafa said that while people were charged with the murder, the motive for the crime was still unclear.

He said that changes made to the homicide squad have resulted in having an inspector focused almost entirely on the Caruana Galizia murder. “Before that every new murder would take investigating focus away from this case,” he said.

Gafa told the inquiry board that all inquiring magistrates involved in the various investigations surrounding the Panama Papers, 17 Black and others, had appointed foreign experts.

“So, we must wait for the outcome of their investigations. Believe me, Mr Justice, it is not easy,” Gafa said.

He steered clear of commenting on the lack of financial crime investigations by his predecessors, insisting that he implemented changes to the Financial Crime Investigation Department soon after becoming commissioner.

“When you start seeing day in day out the same attacks on the same sector, it becomes difficult for the department to operate. I saw the need for a new stimulus in that department,” he said on the appointment of Assistant Commissioner Alexandra Mamo to head the unit.

“Every two weeks I meet Assistant Commsisioner Alexandra Mamo for an update. My job isn't to investigate, it is to give direction,” he said.

Judge Abigail Lofaro asked whether Gafa knew that the delays in cooperation from the United Arab Emirates on 17 Black, were down to mistakes and lack of correct information supplied by the Malta police when filing the request for information.

Gafa would only say that he met with Magistrate Charmaine Galea and had used all possible avenues, including supranational institutions “to make sure our questions do not fall on deaf ears”.

Gafa's testimony continued behind closed doors.

Previous sitting

In the previous sitting former minister, Chris Cardona testified. Cardona reiterated his belief that a letter implicating him as the mastermind of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder was a frame-up.

READ MORE: 'In her eyes I was dirt, ignorant, a drug addict,' Chris Cardona says of Daphne Caruana Galizia

The public inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is tasked with, amongst other things, determining whether the State did all it could to prevent the murder from happening.

Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb just outside her Bidnija home on 16 October 2017.

Three men, George Degiorgio, Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat, have been charged with carrying out the assassination, while Yorgen Fenech is charged with masterminding the murder.

Melvin Theuma, who acted as a middleman between Fenech and the three killers, was granted a presidential pardon last year to tell all.

The inquiry is led by retired judge Michael Mallia and includes former chief justice Joseph Said Pullicino and Judge Abigail Lofaro.

10:50 That's it for today. Thank you for following. Kurt Sansone
10:44 The next sitting is on Tuesday at 1pm when OPM customer care official Sandro Craus and journalist Sylvana Debono are expected to testify. Kurt Sansone
10:43 The questions will now continue behind closed doors. Kurt Sansone
10:43 Gafa says that he met with Magistrate Charmaine Galea and had used all possible avenues, including supranational institutions “to make sure our questions do not fall on deaf ears”. Kurt Sansone
10:42 Judge Abigail Lofaro asks whether he knew that the delay in cooperation from the United Arab Emirates were down to mistakes and lack of correct information made by the Malta police when filing the request for information. Kurt Sansone
10:41 Gafa says he had a meeting with the magistrate to see what stage the inquiries were at. Kurt Sansone
10:40 Said Pullicino presses on the Panama Papers and 17 Black controversies. “They led to the collapse of a government,” he notes. There are several ongoing magisterial inquiries related to the issues. Kurt Sansone
10:37 The judges try to ask Gafa again about his predecessors and their lack of action after Panama Papers but he steers away from the discussion. “Every two weeks I meet Assistant Commsisioner Alexandra Mamo for an update. My job isn't to investigate, it is to give direction,” he says. Kurt Sansone
10:34 Gafa: “All inquiring magistrates appointed foreign experts, so we must wait for the outcome of their investigations. Believe me, Mr Justice, it is not easy.” Kurt Sansone
10:33 On the Caruana Galizia murder, Gafa says that while people have been arraigned in court, the motive is still not clear. Kurt Sansone
10:33 Gafa talks about changes to the homicide squad. “I have one inspector focused almost entirely on the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder. Before that every new murder would take investigating focus away from this case,” he says. Kurt Sansone
10:32 QUICK REMINDER: Upon becoming commissioner, Gafa’s first decision was to replace the head of the economic crimes unit Ian Abdilla with Assistant Commissioner Alexandra Mamo. The department renamed FCID is now located in a separate building in Hamrun with an expanded workforce. Kurt Sansone
10:30 Asked about political interference, Gafa says that he never had any particular interference in his role. Asked about changes he implemented at the FCID upon becoming commissioner, Gafa replies: “When you start seeing day in day out the same attacks on the same sector, it becomes difficult for the department to operate. I saw the need for a new stimulus in that department.” Kurt Sansone
10:28 Gafa: “It is clear. Measures are introduced because they are needed. I applied for this role, but I am probably losing money... I am not the saviour of the police force.” Kurt Sansone
10:27 Said Pullicino asks about the need to introduce accountability. “We have had people of good standing here who at some point collapsed,” he says. Kurt Sansone
10:17 Gafa says that during the time of the Panama Papers he was working with the Malta Security Services and had no contact with the investigation. Kurt Sansone
10:15 Gafa gives a long-winded answer, eventually: “Why six commissioners changed, I cannot say. I worked with just one.” Kurt Sansone
10:09 Gafa: “I started off with a mentality of leading by example. I made many mistakes but I learned from them. This is what I expect from my officers. Accountability, more than just discipline.” Kurt Sansone
10:07 Chief justice emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino points out that it emerged over time that there were rotten apples in the police force. He asks why so many commissioners of police had to be changed over the past few years. Kurt Sansone
10:06 Gafa says there has been a particular spotlight on this department and this deterred people from wanting to join it. But he says it will continue to grow. Kurt Sansone
10:05 Gafa says that the economic and financial crimes unit has increased in size. “Malta's footprint had increased exponentially and the size of the department had been eclipsed,” he says. Gafa adds that benchmarks have been introduced to share the department’s workload with the district police. Today around 95 people serve in the Financial Crime Investigation Department. Kurt Sansone
10:04 Judge Mallia asks about financial crime. Kurt Sansone
10:03 Gafa: “I thank God that nobody since my appointment ever picked up the phone and asked me for a favour. That is because of the mechanisms I put in place.” Kurt Sansone
09:58 The police commissioner explains that every 15 days, police officers are given in-service training. The continuous professional development training includes knowledge about the force’s new policies, he says. Kurt Sansone
09:56 Gafa says this is being tackled. Kurt Sansone
09:56 Gafa: “It was difficult for a colleague to report another colleague and this created a blue wall of silence.” Kurt Sansone
09:55 He adds that recently the corps published a new code of ethics, which was updated after many years. It also introduced an anti-corruption policy. Kurt Sansone
09:54 He explains that the corps is a large organisation with around 2,300 people and is larger than a ministry with its various functions. “My aim is published in the strategy - to protect Malta and its security, in partnership with the community. Today we have a clear strategy, more police visibility and everything is done in consultation with the public,” Gafa says. Kurt Sansone
09:53 Gafa says that reported crime has decreased but attributes this to a lack of trust in the police. “When trust is down, there will be less reports. I took various initiatives like setting up a unit to tackle domestic violence to combat this problem,” Gafa says. Kurt Sansone
09:52 Judge emeritus Michael Mallia asks about Gafa’s vision for the police force. Kurt Sansone
09:51 There was a subsequent call for the post of police commissioner earlier this year and felt he had the necessary attributes. “I applied and was selected for the role,” he says. Kurt Sansone
09:50 Gafa says that in the summer of 2016 there was a call for CEO of the police force. He was selected by the Public Service Commission to occupy the role after a competitive selection process. Kurt Sansone
09:49 He started in 2003 and had previously had been an army officer and felt a disconnect from the public. “I felt a lack of direct service to the public, which is why I joined the police force as an inspector,” he says. Kurt Sansone
09:48 Angelo Gafa takes the stand and is administered the oath. He is asked for a brief overview of his police career. Kurt Sansone
09:48 A knock on the door and the judges emerge from chambers. The sitting begins. Kurt Sansone
09:33 We are waiting for today's sitting to start. Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa is expected to testify this morning. Kurt Sansone
09:33 Good morning. Kurt Sansone

 

 

 

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