Updated | Police investigations into Egrant ongoing, police chief says

Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar takes to the witness stand in the case filed by Opposition leader Adrian Delia over access to the Egrant magisterial inquiry

Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar
Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar

Police investigations prompted by the Egrant inquiry are ongoing, Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar has told the court.

He was testifying in the constitutional case filed by Opposition leader Adrian Delia against the Attorney General for refusing to pass on the full magisterial inquiry.

Cutajar confirmed the police received the full report from the Attorney General as was ordinary practice each time a magisterial inquiry was concluded. He did not elaborate on the type of investigation.

The Egrant inquiry ended in July this year and its conclusions were published. However, despite the Prime Minister insisting he wanted the full inquiry to be released, the Attorney General has been reticent.

Delia had asked the AG for a full copy of the inquiry but this was turned down, prompting the Opposition leader to open a constitutional case. He insists the fact that the Prime Minister has the full report is constituting political imbalance.

The police commissioner told the court that he had a full copy of the inquiry, as did assistant police commissioner Ian Abdilla and the three inspectors investigating the case.

Cutajar explained that when an inquiry is concluded, the magistrate can ask the police to specifically prosecute particular people or ask them to carry on investigating.

The Egrant case is being heard by Judge Robert Mangion. Lawyers Vincent Galea, Andre Portelli, Janice Chetcuti and Errol Cutajar are appearing for Delia, while lawyer Victoria Buttigieg is defending the AG.

OPM official testifies

Later on in the sitting, Matthew Carbone, deputy head of Government communications at OPM took the stand. The former ONE journalist said he helped define the government’s message from time to time. Asked if he was meant to put forward a political message, he said it was “the government’s message.”

Kurt Farrugia is the head of communications, Keith Schembri is Chief of Staff, Carbone said. His role is a position of trust and had been offered the position by Farrugia himself.

Carbone was evasive when it came to the inquiry report and whether he had seen it or not.

He had not “physically seen” the inquiry report, he said.

He was involved and assisted in delivering the social media message of government. He had not authorised the uploading of the photo of the report on government social media, he said. To his knowledge it wasn’t published on one of these media, Carbone added.

The photo, which was taken on a table in the prime minister’s personal office, he said, was not on government social media. Carbone couldn’t remember who had uploaded it to twitter, he said.

Vince Galea pressed him about who he had spoken to about the report.

“Did you speak about it to friends?” “Yes, about the conclusion." “Did you speak to your superiors?” “Yes.” “So you spoke to Keith Schembri?” “Yes. After 15 months, it was talk of the town. The conclusions were categorical.”

Carbone said he had only spoken to Schembri about the facts regarding the fabrication with regards the wife of the prime minister and not the part which concerned Schembri.

“So you spoke to a person mentioned in the conclusion about everything but the part that dealt with him?” asked Galea, incredulously.

He denied talking to John Dalli or Konrad Mizzi about the conclusions, but said that he had also discussed the issue with justice Minister Owen Bonnici, but said that it hadn’t been “in a formal meeting.”

“Did you know that the minister for justice was assisting the PM with regards to Egrant?” asked Galea. “I am not aware that the minister is assisting him,” Carbone replied.

He said he had found from the media that Bonnici had a copy.

“It wasn’t a formal meeting, you meet over a coffee about ten things and its one of the ones mentioned.”

He had met Schembri, Bonnici and others to discuss the way forward on the conclusions of the report since July, he said.

He insisted that he hadn’t ever seen the inquiry itself. He was asked whether he knew where the inquiry is now, physically. Carbone was silent. After some moments, he told the court that he didn’t know.

The case continues in January.

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