Case against former inspector David Gatt in jeopardy after ‘new revelations’

Challenges to witness's testimony under interrogation put in doubt strength of prosecution's case against alleged heist's mastermind.

Arrested: ‘Star witness’ PC99 Mario Portelli.
Arrested: ‘Star witness’ PC99 Mario Portelli.

PC99 Mario Portelli - on whose evidence the police depend in order to sustain their high-profile case against former Police Inspector David Gatt - as reportedly interrogated for 48 hours in an investigation termed by investigators as "very delicate".

MaltaToday is reliably informed that Portelli was held in connection with new investigations related to David Gatt, who has been indicted over serious crime.

The charges against Gatt, now a lawyer, are based on evidence given by PC99 Mario Portelli, formerly Gatt's friend.

Portelli is said to have been made to confront Gatt during interrogations, and was repeatedly challenged to come clean on his role in a number of unsolved cases.

The constable's evidence has been severely dented in court, after his statements were repeatedly challenged, and prosecutors admitted that most of what he told them during their investigations on David Gatt had not been corroborated.

Gatt has been indicted for masterminding a series of crimes which include the theft of more than €1 million from HSBC Bank in Balzan in December 2007, the shoot-out with police during the failed heist on HSBC's operations centre in Qormi in June 2010, the failed heist on a security van carrying €2.8 million in cash last in 2009, and the attempted hold-up on a jeweller in Attard in December 2010.

Portelli had admitted in court to having "remained" Gatt's friend despite claiming that he knew what the former Inspector was allegedly up to.

But he also admitted that what he knew was based on what Gatt had "told him" and not because he saw things.

In another twist of events, PC99 was described as a "liar from A to Z" by a witness who was arrested over a claim made by the policeman. Restaurateur Raymond Abela insisted that Portelli's claim that Gatt - who allegedly styled himself on Corleonese Mafia boss Totò Riina - had made him kiss his hand and spoke to him in Italian when he dined at his restaurant in Bugibba, was a lie. "I don't even know how to speak in Italian," Abela stressed.

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