[WATCH] Police minister says appointing Commissioner by parliamentary two-thirds is gimmick

Michael Farrugia and Beppe Fenech Adami cross swords on Police Commissioner criticism, as hit-and-run on constable Simon Schembri is discussed on Xtra

Nationalist MP Beppe Fenech Adami (left) and Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia (centre) on Xtra tonight
Nationalist MP Beppe Fenech Adami (left) and Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia (centre) on Xtra tonight

Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia has dismissed the Opposition's suggestion of appointing the next Police Commissioner through a two-thirds majority in parliament, calling it a Nationalist Party “gimmick”.

Farrugia insisted that criticism levied against current Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar was unmerited, saying any replacement should be chosen using the same system in place in other jurisdictions around the world.

He said no country used a two-thirds parliamentary majority for such an appointment.

Farrugia and shadow minister Beppe Fenech Adami were debating the state of the Maltese police on TVM’s Xtra, which delved into last week’s hit-and-run which left police constable Simon Schembri seriously injured.

Fenech Adami insisted that Cutajar’s critics were justified. “There is currently a situation of impunity in Malta, where the Police Commissioner is refusing to investigate certain cases.

“Three weeks ago it was revealed that [Tourism Minister] Konrad Mizzi and [the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff] Keith Schembri opened bank accounts to receive millions in. They have been lying to the people for two whole years, maintaining they opened companies to place their assets in, when it is now clear they were target clients for Dubai company 17 Black,” he continued, “Today we also learnt that Pilatus Bank’s former chairman Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, opened the bank in Malta using money which came from crime.”

Farrugia retorted that investigations on such matters were ongoing, and, if any wrongdoing were to be found, the necessary steps would be taken. "This is how things are done, if the rule of law is followed,” he said, stressing that when the Egrant allegations about the Prime Minister were made, it was Joseph Muscat himself who had asked for an investigation into the claims.

Fenech Adami: Certain segments of society have lost their way

Farrugia said he would embark on a “positive” campaign, directed at various members of society, including schoolchildren and their parents, aiming at instilling respect towards authority.

Mirroring the Prime Minister’s comments last Sunday, he said that it was important to “always respect authority, not only when it's in your personal interest to do so.”

Fenech Adami remarked that the issue of respect was connected to the problem of an erosion of values within society.

“It is evident that there are segments of young people whom we have ‘lost’, socially speaking - people who do not feel the need to go to work, who own very expensive cars and who think they should become rich quick. The primary fault of this is ours, as politicians. While the majority of Maltese people have moved forward, there are segments who have slipped through the cracks,” he emphasised, highlighting a problematic social stratum in Malta he said had become wayward.

“There are people in our society who do not even realise that what happened to Simon Schembri was very bad,” he underlined.

Government discussing police collective agreement

The programme also touched on the low salaries paid to the police, with Farrugia noting that discussions were underway to revise the conditions of the current police force collective agreement. He also said that there was a special budget being planned, to provide insurance to all public service employees, including the police.

“The government will have the Opposition’s support when it comes to sitting down and discussing how to improve conditions for the police,” Fenech Adami agreed.


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