Police officer suspended over benefits fraud claims discrimination

Police officer accuses Police Commissioner of double standards in judicial protest filed on Tuesday

Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa
Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa

A police constable who received undue social benefit payments is claiming that his request to be boarded out on medical grounds was ignored so that he could be suspended by the Public Service Commission, accusing the Commissioner of Police of double standards.

The constable is currently awaiting charges in connection with the Silvio Grixti benefits fraud racket, after having received some €17,000 in social benefits for a disability which he did not actually suffer from. He is understood to have repaid the €17,000 sum to the Social Services department in full, two months ago. 

Around the same time, he was medically certified as suffering from a psychiatric condition and had asked to be boarded out. Normally, a medical board would be immediately appointed and the case assessed.

But although he made the request in August, no medical board was convened and no explanation for this was given, despite a number of emails to the Police Force’s Human Resources department, he says.
In that time the Public Service Commission had approved the Commissioner of Police’s recommendation that he be suspended on half-pay, where he remains to this day.

In a judicial protest filed today, the constable’s lawyers, Jason Azzopardi and Kris Busietta, contrasted the way their client was treated with that enjoyed by Inspectors Roderick Zammit and his brother, former inspector Daniel Zammit, sons of the former acting police commissioner Ray Zammit. 

Daniel was boarded out in 2015, aged 32 and Roderick April 2016 at age 36. Both are entitled to a lifelong pension.

The Zammit brothers and their father had been in business with Joseph Gaffarena, setting up a company together at a time when Daniel Zammit was investigating and prosecuting Gaffarena’s son-in-law over the sadistic murder of Joe Gaffarena’s daughter’s lover in 2008.

Daniel Zammit was boarded out on psychiatric grounds in April 2015, only to land a €60,000 job at Enemalta – a position from which he was subsequently removed by the Energy Minister – four days later. His brother Roderick was also censured for unethical behaviour and dubious ties with businessmen, was also boarded out of the force on medical grounds not long after.

“For some strange reason and unlike what always happens in similar cases, the Commissioner of Police refused to convene the Medical Board to hear the case, despite a psychiatrist having certified the plaintiff that he was no longer fit for police service,” reads the protest.

“All this clearly shows that there was nothing legal, reasonable or in good faith in the Commissioner of Police’s failure to convene the medical board….rather the Comissioner of Police acted in such bad faith that he kept the request made by the protestant and his psychiatrist pending and ignored it on purpose so that the PSC would have time to notify him of his precautionary suspension.”

Claiming a breach of his fundamental human rights, the judicial protest informed the Commissioner and the State Advocate that they will be held liable for the damages suffered by the constable and asks them to “stop using different standards where it suits them and stop their dirty actions which are harming his mental health.”