Police give no new information on Caruana Galizia murder in chaotic press conference

Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar said the force was precluded from divulging any information until the ongoing magisterial inquiry is concluded

Lawrence Cutajar insisted the police could give no information since it could jeopardise ongoing investigations
Lawrence Cutajar insisted the police could give no information since it could jeopardise ongoing investigations

Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar has said that the police force was not able to divulge any information regarding the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia since “a magisterial inquiry is in progress and any details could hinder the course of the investigation".

Addressing a press conference together with deputy commissioner Silvio Valletta and assistant commissioners Kevin Farrugia and Martin Sammut, the commissioner emphasised that investigations were being led by local authorities with four members of the FBI offering “technical assistance” and four Dutch officials assisting in forensic investigations.

In his very short remarks to a boardroom packed with local and foreign journalists, Cutajar said that apart from the magisterial inquiry, members of the CID, forensic unit, cyber-crime unit and divisional police were also involved in the search for Caruana Galizia’s killer.

Valletta explained that “at the moment, crime scene officers were on the site of the crime, and that once the collection of evidence was completed, “other tests will be carried out”.

“You also appreciate the fact that in the present moment and for the past days, our units have been involved in intensive investigations. So, if you have any questions please be brief so that we can get back to the investigation,” said the commissioner.

Responding to a barrage of questions from journalists present, the commissioner said he could not comment on whether there was any CCTV footage from the house or the surrounding area, whether there were any suspects, the nature of the material used in the bombing, or whether any documents or electronic devices had been recovered. He did confirm that the car the slain journalist was driving had been removed from the site of killing.

Asked by journalists whether FBI officials had been scheduled to arrive in Malta irrespective of the bombing, Cutajar confirmed that they were expected in Malta “on a different subject” related to human trafficking but were asked specifically to help out in this case.

“We asked for foreign assistance because once we arrived on the site we noticed there were going to be certain difficulties,” said Cutajar, who also confirmed that there was no involvement of Scotland Yard in the investigations.  

It was also confirmed that the police had made contact with Caruana Galizia’s family however the commissioner would not elaborate further on whether they were collaborating with the police.

Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Opposition leader Adrian Delia insisted that for the Opposition to cooperate with the Government the police commissioner would have to resign his post. Asked whether he would be resigning Cutajar said his “principle focus” was giving all his assistance and know-how to the investigation.

“I can tell you as well since, you went on a personal level, that I have been in the Police Force for almost 40 years and have worked under both administrations. I have always given my best to the force and have been promoted under each administration,” he said, adding that he did not believe people were questioning his integrity.  

Cutajar was also asked how, given that all the car bombs in the past year had not been solved, how people could believe that the police could solve this particular case.

“We are doing our best to solve this case and all our resources are focused on solving this crime,” he said. 

Press conference instilled fear rather than reassurance – Delia

Reacting to the press conference as he was speaking in Parliament, Opposition leader Adrian Delia insisted that if that was “the best they can do then it gives us no comfort that things are being done in the best way possible”.

Delia tore into the Police Commissioner, arguing that he had failed to put people’s minds at rest and rather, had instilled fear that things were not being done properly.

Cutajar did failed to offer his resignation, with Delia arguing that he would have at least expected the commissioner to say something when faced with questions about people’s lack of trust in him.

He reiterated the Opposition’s call for the commissioner to resign, with a new commissioner appointed who enjoyed the confidence of two-thirds parliamentary majority.

Delia insisted the Nationalist Party would remain vigilant in monitoring the government’s actions, as well as those of the country’s institutions.