Judge’s inquiry confirms worst fears about the Zammits

Judge fails to call key protagonists

The Zammit family: brothers Daniel and Roderick and their father, Ray
The Zammit family: brothers Daniel and Roderick and their father, Ray

The findings in Judge Michael Mallia’s inquiry report exposed the links former police inspector Daniel Zammit had with the Gaffarena family and entertainment mogul Hugo Chetcuti.

The conclusions of the inquiry into allegations about the Zammits – former acting police commissioner Ray Zammit and his sons Daniel and Roderick who still serves as a police inspector  – were published on Thursday after being commissioned by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Daniel Zammit’s “unethical” involvement as co-prosecutor on the murder charges against Stephen Caruana, the son-in-law of Joe Gaffarena, with whom Zammit and his family are in business, is the inquiry’s most damning conclusion.

The Zammit family’s dealings with the Gaffarenas started in 2009, when the former police officer and his brother bought land which previously belonged to the Gaffarena family, and a year later the two families became business partners.

Judge Mallia recommended the Attorney General to look into the possibility that Zammit may have traded in influence, which is a criminal act.

The inquiry also concluded that Roderick Zammit’s actions were “censurable” and that disciplinary steps should be taken against him, while it also said that Ray Zammit, now appointed CEO of the national wardens’ agency, was “censurable” but that his actions were not “entirely serious”.

However, the inquiry has a number of flaws, especially in the manner the investigations were conducted.

Judges’ interviews in inquiry

Apart from interviewing the Zammits, Judge Mallia also called the representative of the Malta Financial Services Authority, Claudette Fenech, police registrar Mario Spiteri, former police commissioners John Rizzo and Peter Paul Zammit, current commissioner of police Michael Cassar, Daniel Zammit’s former father-in-law George Buttigieg [formerly a business partner], permanent secretary in the home affairs ministry Kevin Mahoney, court expert Dr Martin Bajada and Labour MP and notary Charles Mangion.

The Gaffarena link

Despite concluding that Daniel Zammit stalled the murder charge against Joe Gaffarena’s son-in-law while the Zammits and the Gaffarenas were business partners, Judge Mallia failed to interview Joe Gaffarena.

Judge Mallia also pointed out that that the murder scene-of-the-crime was demolished by Joe Gaffarena and a block of apartments built instead without any court’s permission.

Mallia said that Joe Gaffarena was “a dubious character, with a copious penal record, principally where breach of construction rules are concerned,” yet he was not interviewed during the inquiry.

Hugo’s friend

The inquiry found that Daniel Zammit, a shareholder in Diabolik Entertainment with Luke Chetcuti, son of Hugo, threw a birthday party for his brother Roderick at the sumptuous villa of Hugo Chetcuti, the owner of various Paceville entertainment hub establishments.

Although Mallia described Chetcuti as a “dubious character whose copious penal record includes regular breaches of rules on his Paceville establishments,” the Judge did not interview the entrepreneur.

While the Zammits claimed their friendship with Chetcuti was one of a simple “hello and goodbye”, Mallia revealed that the brothers had a “close friendship” with Chetcuti and Daniel Zammit’s birthday bash was celebrated at the impresario’s €6 million Villa Isis in Madliena.

“The fact that the two inspectors organised this birthday party, even though they paid nothing, still puts them in a pecuniary obligation in the sense of the law, making them obliged towards Chetcuti for offering them the venue,” Mallia said.

 Daniel and Roderick Zammit were both transferred back from district police postings to the Economic Crimes Unit on 10 June, 2013.

Daniel Zammit had been removed from the Criminal Investigations Department as police inspector and stationed at the Valletta police station but in 2013, upon the election of the Labour government, Zammit was brought into the economic crimes unit on the insistence of the home affairs ministry.

Although the current police commissioner and two former police chiefs were interviewed, the inquiry failed to establish why Daniel Zammit was removed from the CID and why he was transferred to the Economic Crimes Unit together with his brother.

The inquiry failed to establish who ordered the transfers and whether the transfer of the two brothers to the same unit was permissible.