Simon Busuttil says Muscat's credibility is in 'freefall'

Opposition leader suspects involvement of Acting Police Commissioner in alleged cover-up but Ray Zammit denies claims

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has implicated Assistant Police Commissioner Ray Zammit in an alleged cover-up on the shooting incident
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has implicated Assistant Police Commissioner Ray Zammit in an alleged cover-up on the shooting incident
Assistant Police Commissioner Ray Zammit
Assistant Police Commissioner Ray Zammit
Busuttil: Muscat's credibility in freefall' • Video: Ray Attard

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has once again called for the resignation of Home Affairs Minister Manuel Mallia, following an incident in which his security driver, Police Constable Paul Sheehan, shot at the car of Stephen Morrison Smith, following a hit-and-run incident.

Busuttil has now questioned the involvement of Acting Police Commissioner Ray Zammit in what he claims was a cover-up of the incident, by ordering that the Scotsman’s Opel Insigna vehicle be removed before the magisterial inquiry could investigate.

In a statement after Busuttil’s press conference in Gzira – where the incident started – Zammit declared that he had not ordered the removal of the car.

“The only order the Commissioner took was that Superintendent Alexandra Mamo, who is responsible of the district, be present on site to order a magisterial inquiry. It is true that the Commissioner asked that a low loader be brought down to the site so that after an inquiry is ordered, the cars are taken down to the CID yard as happens in any case where a magisterial inquiry is launched. Although the car was loaded onto the low loader, Police still stayed on site and an inquiry continued on site.”

Sheehan's ministerial duties have been terminated and he has since been also suspended from the police force following Wednesday night’s shooting incident in Triq Wied il-Kappara, Gzira.

At least two shots were fired, and hit, in the direction of Steve Morrison Smith’s car. The Scotsman was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol when he hit Mallia’s stationary car and drove away. A breathalyzer test returned positive with alcohol levels were three times higher than the legal limit.

Residents in Triq Wied il-Kappara who spoke to MaltaToday said that, at around 9pm, they heard the blaring of a horn and saw two cars coming to a stop at the end of the road. Reportedly, both men were standing outside their cars: one of them was on the phone and the other was holding a gun. A few minutes later, between five to 10 minutes, residents heard gunshots.

Addressing a press conference in Gzira where the shots were fired, Busuttil – flanked by MPs Beppe Fenech Adami and Jason Azzopardi – reiterated that Mallia should resign.

"Manuel Mallia must shoulder responsibility for the attempted coverup of this crime by claiming that there were warning shots and for the removal of the Scotsman's car without the permission of the inquiring magistrate," Busuttil said.

"We suspect that the Acting Police Commissioner is also involved in the cover-up because he was present for a meeting between himself, the home affairs ministry and the Office of the Prime Minister."

Busuttil said there were a lot of questions that must be answered.

Asked whether the alleged involvement of Ray Zammit in the cover-up would be revealed through the magisterial inquiry, the PN leader said the Acting Commissioner of Police should make his position clear.

"The person who used a firearm in a residential road has not been arrested, charged or arraigned in court. The Acting Police Commissioner must explain."

Asked about the fact that not even Morrisson Smith had yet been arraigned, Busuttil said the crime had not been committed by himself.

Busuttil said Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's decision to await the outcome of the magisterial inquiry was "just an excuse not to fire Mallia".

"The credibility of the Prime Minister is in free fall. If he fails to remove Mallia, then it is clear that he is an accomplice," the PN leader said.

According to Busuttil, Sheehan's excessive use of force was "down to the Minister who allowed him to do what he wants". He said that this was "the result of a culture that under a Labour government anything goes and that you can do whatever you want if you are close to the government".

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