[WATCH] Former army commander heading Bogdanovic inquiry is minister’s relative – PN

Shadow minister Jason Azzopardi and Beppe Fenech Adami say that Carmelo Abela must answer for the Police Force's poor state of affairs

Shadow ministers Beppe Fenech Adami and Jason Azzopardi
Shadow ministers Beppe Fenech Adami and Jason Azzopardi
PN says Bogdanovic case is another example of corruption within the Police Corps

The former army brigadier who is heading the inquiry into the alleged release of Xewkija midfielder Daniel Bogdanovic to allow him to play a match against Kercem two Saturdays ago, is a relative of Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela, the Nationalist Party said today.

According to PN Deputy Leader Beppe Fenech Adami, Carmel Vassallo, is married to the sister of the Minister’s wife. 

Addressing a press conference at the PN headquarters, shadow ministers Beppe Fenech Adami and Jason Azzopardi questioned how the minister could appoint an inquiry and ask a relative to lead it.

Following the revelations made by MaltaToday, the government yesterday issued a statement announcing that former AFM Brigadier Carmel Vassallo will be heading an internal investigation into the police’s handling of the case. It gave the inquiry three weeks to conclude and report is findings.

Fenech Adami and Azzopardi said the police force was now being used by politicians “to cover obscenities”.

Azzopardi questioned why Bogdanovic was allowed to play a football match after having been arrested, adding that it was highly irregular for this to happen.

“The fact that he was arraigned in court on Monday morning means it was a serious case. What guarantee is there that he did not tamper with any evidence or speak to witnesses?” Azzopardi asked.

Following the government’s decision to set up an inquiry into the case, Xewkija Tiger coach Jesmond Zammit, the head of the parliamentary secretary for EU Funding’s secretariat, suspended himself pending the inquiry. Zammit denied any involvement.

Drawing comparisons, journalists asked Fenech Adami whether he as well should have resigned pending an independent inquiry into the CapitalOne investigation. However, the PN deputy leader insisted that he did nothing wrong. “The cases, as MaltaToday reported, revolves around the Police,” Fenech Adami added.

Azzopardi and Fenech Adami took the Home Affairs Minister to task over “the poor state of affairs” of the Malta Police Force, saying that police have been rendered inefficient “as a result of political interference”.

“Carmelo Abela must answer and shoulder responsibility for the police’s zero response towards organised crime and corruption,” the PN said.

Turning to the stabbing incident involving Yana Mintoff Bland, the daughter of former Labour prime minister Dom Mintoff, Fenech Adami criticised the government for not informing the public about the current state of investigations.

Azzopardi added that in all cases where a stabbing takes places, the accused are normally rushed to court under arrest, however in this case this did not happen.

“The message is that a different set of rules are applied to those close to the government,” he said.

Mintoff’s partner, Gheorghe Popa, 39, is still in hospital having been admitted to Mater Dei suffering from grievous injuries to his abdomen. Popa was found hiding in a tree behind Mintoff Bland’s Tarxien villa. Mintoff Bland and her son, Daniel Mainwaring, were treated for slight injuries at the Paola health centre and were referred to Mater Dei.

In a reaction, the government said the Opposition’s criticism was “ridiculous” given that the inquiry would be establishing whether any external influence was brought upon police proceedings in the domestic violence incident.

“Beppe Fenech Adami has a lesson to learn when it comes to transparency and accountability. A government official who denies having intervened in the case, being the coach of the football team, suspended himself pending the investigation,” the government said.

“On his part, the PN deputy leader shouldered no responsibility despite an inquiry into the way a police investigation at the time he was parliamentary assistant for home affairs, did not continue when it turned out he was the director of a fiduciary whose client was suspected of drug trafficking and money laundering.

“The Opposition’s double standards are clearer than ever. The Opposition leader believes he has the divine right to be judge, jury, and prosecutor when it benefits him. This is jut political desperation.”