After many claims of corruption, Maltese society wonders whether corruption in Malta goes up to the top or not. Malta’s Police Commissioner’s feeble performance has left many doubting the truth will be out. But what should the Commissioner have done?
I – A similar example
The simple answer is: He should investigate because that’s what he’s there for.
Let me take an example from current affairs; take a look at Israel.
Mr Roni Alsheikh used to be the deputy chief of Israel’s Security Agency, Shin Bet. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appointed him the country’s Police Commissioner in December 2015. This was surprising because insiders expected Mr Alsheikh to stay in the Security Agency. The two men were friends and Mr Netanyahu thought having Mr Alsheikh as Commissioner would be a safe choice. As the London Times reports, he promised Mr Alsheikh the role of Chief of Shin Bet, in return for a single term as Police Commissioner.
This is important – the Prime Minister uses political favours to get the person he wants as Police Commissioner. We know Mr Alsheikh took the job. If he is half the man he’s made out to be, he must have realised a Prime Minister who grants favours once will not hesitate to grant more.
A Prime Minister who grants favours once will not hesitate to grant more.
Just over 2 years later, Israel’s no-longer-new Police Commissioner reports they have enough intelligence to charge Mr Netanyahu with corruption. He’s accused of exchanging political favours for gifts, and of manipulating the media to get better coverage. Mr Netanyahu denies these charges.
According to the official account of the investigation, “In the first half of 2016. information was received from a variety of sources that raised suspicions of fraud.”
Mr Alsheikh personally oversaw matters. This is what you’d expect from an investigation into a Prime Minister. The allegations are, by their nature, sensitive and need careful handling. I’m not saying all the other Israeli investigators aren’t capable of investigating. But you need to make sure you cross all your Ts and dot all your Is if you’re investigating the most powerful politician in the land.
Mr Alsheikh’s loyalty to his country is greater than any personal ambition.
To Mr Alsheikh’s credit, the investigation questioned 80 witnesses over a two-year time frame. You don’t need me to tell you Mr Alsheikh will not get the role of Chief of Shin Beth as long as Mr Netanyahu is in power. But that didn’t stop Mr Alsheikh. His loyalty to his country is greater than any personal ambition.
As I write, Israel’s Attorney General is considering whether to charge Mr Netanyahu. It’s not clear which way the wind will blow in the AG’s office, but it doesn’t look good for Mr Netanyahu.
So how does this compare to Malta’s situation?
II – Malta’s Police Commissioner
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat appointed Malta’s current Police Commissioner, Laurence Cutajar, in August 2016. This was the fifth Commissioner in three years. Allegedly, governmental pressure pushed the previous Commissioners out. If the Police Commissioner’s office has a revolving door, you know something’s rotten in the setup of the police corps. Few had much faith in whomever ended up lasting.
But whatever caused the others to resign doesn’t seem to bother this one.
Mr Cutajar didn’t need to wait for information about “suspicions of fraud” the way Mr Alsheikh did. The Panama Papers scandal had already named one of Dr Muscat’s ministers as having a secret offshore trust in New Zealand. Separately, the media has accused Dr Muscat of obtaining gifts he shouldn’t have accepted. There also are well-reported stories of how he influenced Maltese media to get better coverage for himself.
The charges mentioned are almost identical to the ones Mr Netanyahu faces.
Has Mr Cutajar recommended the Prime Minister be charged? Is there, in the opinion of the Malta Police Corps, enough information to charge the PM?
Surely the police corps should be competent enough to investigate corruption?
Mr Cutajar claims there isn’t enough information to back up these allegations. He admits the police do not investigate these claims. He shrugs and suggests the police have “limited competence” in investigating these things. Surely the police corps is the one entity that should be competent enough to investigate corruption?
So the claims in Israel and Malta are similar, but Israel investigates its Prime Minister while Malta does not.
If you’re Prime Minister, they will ignore your actions, alleged or otherwise. If you’re anyone else, they will charge you and perhaps jail you. This is blatantly unfair. The rule of law is simple – everyone, including the Prime Minister, is equal in the eyes of the law.
Life in Malta makes it clear that the rule of law does not apply because there is one law for the few, and one for the rest of us.
And they dare call themselves socialists.
What do you think the Police Commissioner should have done? Share your thoughts below.
- Deputy Shin Bet chief tapped as new police commissioner; Newman, Marissa; Times of Israel; 2015-09-25
- The bodyguard with his hands round Binyamin Netanyahu’s throat; Pfeffer, Anshel; The Sunday Times; 2018-02-18
- Israel PM Netanyahu faces corruption charges; BBC News; 2018-02-13
- Laurence Cutajar appointed police commissioner; Malta Today; 2016-08-01
- The prime minister and his wife have entered into a sponsorship deal with the (Labour) owner of The North Face distributorship in Malta. Are they being paid for it?; Caruana Galizia, Daphne; Daphnecaruanagalizia.com; 2013-12-02
- Hillman put on State payroll two weeks after election; Camilleri, Ivan; 2017-12-24
- Remove politicians implicated in serious corruption, European Parliament report says; Borg, Jacob; The Times of Malta; 2018-01-1
All references were valid and correct when this article was published. Changes to referenced websites or web pages may render some references invalid. If this is the case, please leave a comment below.
Written by: Antoine P Borg
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