Chris Said raises hornet’s nest over ignored drug charges in Gozo

Gozo MP Said alleges that “secret meetings” were held in a ministry, in order to have people caught with drugs avoid arraignment

Opposition MP Chris Said delivers a speech in Parliament
Opposition MP Chris Said delivers a speech in Parliament

Nationalist MP Chris Said has asked Home Affairs minister Carmelo Abela in parliament to come clean over information that the police has not arraigned a number of individuals arrested on drug charges.

“Very few arraignments are made and at times concrete action has only been taken because police officers from Malta are deployed in Gozo,” Said said during an intervention in Parliament earlier this week.

Said has alleged that “secret meetings” are held in a ministry, in order to have people caught with drugs avoid being arraigned.

The former justice minister also reminded the minister that the information could easily be compiled by his officials, by analysing the discrepancy between those arrested and those arraigned in the Maltese and Gozitan courts.

The question led to an angry reaction from Carmelo Abela who asked Said to substantiate his claims.

Abela raised a point of order to demand Said to clarify whether these meetings were being held inside his own ministry. 

“I have asked in Parliament whether any meetings took place in which it was decided not to arraign people arrested for trafficking. The minister also has access to statistics about how many people were arrested and how many people were arraigned and how many were arrested for possession and trafficking but not arraigned. I am not privy to this information, but the minister has access to this information and he can check who was arrested but not arraigned,” Said replied.

Abela denied such meetings had taken place within his ministry and insisted that he cannot interfere in the police’s operations.

Yet MaltaToday has learnt that Said is basing his arguments on hard evidence that shows that there are known cases of individuals who were arrested on drug trafficking charges and still have yet to be arraigned.

Said has also insinuated that they were not charged because of the intervention of influential third parties.

MaltaToday is informed that some of these cases go back three years and could have involved the personal involvement of some senior figures within the Labour administration who were not necessarily politically appointed individuals.

Police sources also told MaltaToday that there were a number of cases that were still awaiting clearance before arraignment. The first was from a very small group of individuals who were being assessed by the Attorney General on whether to face a jury or not, and another group of people arrested in possession of a small quantity of drugs for personal use and were awaiting their appointment before a tribunal.

In his impassioned intervention, Said warned that drug abuse and trafficking had “exploded” in Gozo and said that although the police are well aware of where the problem lays, “very little is being done” and that arrests had dwindled over the past four years.

He added that this was either down to a lack of expertise “or a lack of will” to enable the police force to deal with drug trafficking.

Said also accused government of transferring Gozitan police officers with previous experience in the Drug Squad for political reasons.

“Because of their political allegiances, they are being deployed to dish out traffic fines in Rabat,” he said, adding that calls for their reinstatement in the CID were being ignored.