Bogdanovic release was red flag to rivals after brother-in-law accompanied sister to file complaint

Wife was accompanied by brother, Ghajnsielem footballer Ferdinando Apap, to make criminal complaint

Match-ready: Daniel Bogdanovic, circled, was released on Sunday on police bail to play the Xewkija match when he was expected to be kept under arrest to be arraigned on Monday 1 November in front of Magistrate Joanne Vella Cuschieri
Match-ready: Daniel Bogdanovic, circled, was released on Sunday on police bail to play the Xewkija match when he was expected to be kept under arrest to be arraigned on Monday 1 November in front of Magistrate Joanne Vella Cuschieri

An internal inquiry into the arrest and release of former Malta international Daniel Bogdanovic will hear that Gozo was alight with speculation over his release to play a Xewkija Tigers match against Kercem.

It was Bogdanovic’s wife, and her brother – Ghajnsielem footballer Ferdinando Apap – who filed the criminal complaint with the police on threatening mobile phone messages that Bogdanovic allegedly made to her.

The internal inquiry launched by government, headed by former army commander Carmel Vassallo, is hearing how Bogdanovic, arrested at 7:30pm Saturday evening on 29 October, was released on police bail on Sunday, specifically when it was made clear to Gozo police that he be allowed to make a 3pm kick-off against Kercem.

This fact will also be made clear in court Thursday morning as the hearing into the criminal complaint against the footballer, continues. Additionally, Bogdanovic will face a charge related to the keeping of a licensed firearm and bullets in his premises, ostensibly posing a danger to his family.

His defence requested a ban on the publication of his name, which the court upheld on 1 November, the day after he was released on police bail. But MaltaToday’s story specifically referred to his arrest and release the day before he was arraigned.

There is no doubt that Bogdanovic’s appearance on the field was a red flag to Xewkija’s rivals Ghajnsielem, with the club having been aware of Ferdinando Apap’s brother-in-law’s trouble with the police.

When Bogdanovic’s release made headlines in MaltaToday, specifically when phone-calls from top brass preceded the footballer’s release, an internal inquiry was launched by the home affairs ministry. MaltaToday’s sources say that Gozo police acted on top brass orders that came from a ministry official, when Bogdanovic was originally requested to be presented under arrest before Magistrate Joanne Vella Cuschieri on Monday morning.

Since then, Xewkija Tigers’ coach Jesmond Zammit – who happened to be head of secretariat to parliamentary secretary Ian Borg – has suspended himself pending the inquiry, although this newspaper did not suggest Zammit as having directly requested Bogdanovic’s release on police bail.

Additionally, the Opposition has speculated in the House of Representatives as to whether Gozo minister Anton Refalo used his influence with police to secure Bogdanovic’s release: in the past Refalo has assisted the Xewkija club as a guarantor for the acquisition of their club’s premises.

While not denying outright the suggestion made by shadow home affairs minister Jason Azzopardi, Refalo only demanded that the MP make his allegation outside the House – ostensibly a “challenge” that would invite some form of libel action by Refalo.

That legal remedy, long considered the politician’s refuge to win over public support, could mean years of toing-and-froing inside the Maltese courts. Carmel Vassallo’s own internal inquiry is not expected to take more than three weeks.

Ghajnsielem F.C. statement

The Gozitan footballing side has released a statement on the report: "Without entering into the merits of the case, the Club had nothing to do with the alleged incident in question or its aftermath, and it is treating it strictly as a family matter; the Club’s player mentioned in this article is related by consanguinity to the alleged victim and it is only reasonable for one family member to support another in times of distress; the Club has and will continue to offer its support to its player during this difficult time for him and his family."

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