Former economic crimes chief now under fire, pushed into administrative role

Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà shakes up police top brass, introduces internal audit

Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà has shaken up roles in the force's top echelons
Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà has shaken up roles in the force's top echelons

A major shakeup in the police force’s top echelons sees the former head of the Economic Crimes Unit pushed into an administrative role, MaltaToday has learnt.

Assistant Commissioner Ian Abdilla has been pushed away from police investigations and will now be responsible for ICT services, according to police sources.

Abdilla, who has faced flak over his handling of major money laundering investigations by the ECU, was replaced by Assistant Commissioner Alexandra Mamo in one of the first major decisions taken by incoming Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà. Testifying in the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry this week, Abdilla's statement that he never summoned Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri over the Panama Papers scandal and other allegations was met by disbelief from the three judges heading the inquiry.

“This is effectively a demotion for Abdilla, who will now have an administrative role after heading one of the force’s investigative branches,” the sources told MaltaToday.

They added that Gafà has moved ahead with more changes over the past days in a bid to streamline operations at the top. The changes were communicated to officers this week.

“Gafà had to work with the assistant commissioners he had available but has made it known internally that he wants fewer top officials,” the sources said, in what is a reaction to criticism over recent years that the force had too many chiefs.

The police force currently has two deputy police commissioners since two had retired and Gafà is very likely to keep it that way, the sources added.

Deputy Police Commissioner Antoine Casha will be responsible for investigations.

Deputy Police Commissioner Carmelo Magri, who served as acting police commissioner until Gafà was appointed, will be responsible for operations, districts, the Rapid Intervention Unit and traffic.

An internal audit office will be created and this will report to Assistant Commissioner Stephen Gatt, who will be responsible for good governance in the force.

The sources said Gafà has also cut down the number of police regions from four to two, which means there will only be two assistant commissioners responsible for them.

Assistant commissioners Steve Mallia and Martin Sammut have been kept in their roles and will each be responsible for a region.

“The police commissioner says he does not want silos and the reduction in regions is one way of ensuring greater coordination and uniformity in decisions,” the sources said.

Other changes will see Assistant Commissioner Nazzareno Grixti retaining responsibility for the RIU and the Special Intervention Unit but being asked to report for work at Floriana HQ rather than Ta’ Kandja.

Assistant Commissioner Dennis Theuma will remain in charge of the Drug Squad but will also be responsible for units that deal with domestic violence, gender based violence and hate crimes.

And it appears that Assistant Commissioner Francis Micallef was informed that his contract will not be extended with sources indicating that Gafà has made it clear that his preference is not to have officers older than 65, to make way for younger officers.