Police insist they don’t need Prime Minister’s authorisation to analyse electronic equipment

Reacting to a news report, the police deny they need any authorisation from the Prime Minister to secure and analyse information from mobile phones

Police insist they do not need authorisation from the Prime Minister to secure mobile phones (Photo: John Pisani)
Police insist they do not need authorisation from the Prime Minister to secure mobile phones (Photo: John Pisani)

The police do not need any authorisation from the Prime Minister to obtain and analyse information from mobile phones, the police force said on Monday afternoon.

It was reacting to a report in The Sunday Times of Malta yesterday that the police were waiting for a decision by Robert Abela on whether to unlock Tax Commissioner Marvin Gaerty’s phone.

The newspaper also reported that the phone includes an exchange between Abela and Gaerty on opposition leader Bernard Grech’s tax situation.

Gaerty was questioned again last week over an exchange of messages with murder suspect Yorgen Fenech over a tax issue back in 2014. He is understood to have been released on police bail after 12 hours of interrogation.

In a statement the police said the news report included “incorrect assertions”.

“It is not true that the police require any authorisation from the Prime Minister to acquire or analyse mobile phones and other technological apparatus. The police investigation mentioned in the report has been proceedings with no disruptions, also with the help of an inquiring magistrate,” the police said.

Ostensibly, the reference is to the investigation involving Fenech and Gaerty, and not the alleged exchange between Abela and Gaerty over the PN leader’s tax status.

“Requests made according to tax law have nothing to do with other parts of the TOM report,” the police said, without explaining further.

According to the TOM report Gaerty declined access to his phone, citing security legislation in the Income Tax Act, which can only be waivered by the PM.

The newspaper also reported that the police raided Gaerty’s home and car, and his Floriana office to collect evidence.

READ ALSO: Police wait on PM’s go-ahead to access tax chief’s phone shows institutions are not working – PN leader

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