[WATCH] Commissioner of Police should not resign, minister says

'God forbid that people resign for every murder that occurs', home affairs minister Michael Farrugia said

Commissioner of Police Lawrence Cutajar
Commissioner of Police Lawrence Cutajar

Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia has defended Commissioner of Police Lawrence Cutajar, whose resignation was called by the Opposition in the House of Representatives.

The Commissioner of Police was said to have been conspicuous by his absence, with the press not acccorded a crime conference on the car-bomb assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Police chief Lawrence Cutajar was already staunchly criticised by the Nationalist Party first for never taking up an own-initiative investigation of the Panama Papers, and later for not carrying out a swoop on the Pilatus Bank which Caruana Galizia claimed had processed a $1 million transaction paid to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s wife.

“God forbid that people resign for every murder... the police corps’ leaders are hands-on and coordinating the investigation to solve this case. This rhetoric only benefits the perpetrator of this vile attack on a journalist, which has affected our country. This country needs to have its institutions intact and working to ensure this case is solved.”

The comments will be broadcast on tonight’s edition of Xtra, on TVM.

Farrugia also said that while Caruana Galizia had refused offers for protection outside her family home, the Commissioner of Police had no right to send officers behind her door against her wishes. “He would be overstepping his limits,” Farrugia said.

The minister insisted that people could trust the Maltese police, which he said had seen a decrese in criminality in 2017 with more cases solved.

But a spate of car-bombs related to Malta’s criminal gangs has so far been left unsolved.

“One has to factor in the lack of cooperation of the victims’ relatives,” Farrugia said. “The investigations are ongoing and we appeal for more cooperation from the relatives, who know much more than what they have said.”

There have been 19 bomb attacks in Malta since 2010, and none of the cases in the past two years have been solved.

Media reports said that Daphne Caruana Galizia reported threats against her life prior to her murder, but police have denied receiving any such reports.

“[Caruana Galizia] felt that police protection impinged upon her freedom,” Farrugia told MaltaToday. “There were occasions, particularly in 2013 and 2014, when protection was provided to her and her family, but they left after a few days because [her family] expressed that [they] were not happy with police behind their door”.

Farrugia said there have been requests for protection in recent times which were received and answered for. “We’ve seen that these requests for protection are provided for immediately,” the minister said, adding that he has never denied anyone’s request for personal protection.

“The duty of the Commissioner is to coordinate everything that needs to be done for a case to be solved. We are now even considering the possibility of offering a reward to anyone with information which could lead to the arrest of the person behind [the murder]

“Right now, what is important is that the public refrains from making personal attacks, and that the country unites to support each other during a time in which there has been a threat against our democracy and [our] journalists”.