Tista' taqra bil- Malti.
The wife of former Police Chief Peter Paul Zammit is a third degree relative of former European Commissioner John Dalli. This emerged during the public inquiry hearing on Thursday afternoon when Zammit testified before the board chaired by Judge Emeritus Michael Mallia.
During his testimony, Peter Paul Zammit explained that when he took over the Police Force he had investigated Dalli’s case. He recalled having gone through the whole file and found certain shortcomings. A report which was previously hidden also came to light. He explained that former Police Commissioner John Rizzo did not see this report.
Zammit explained that he had sent for Dalli and had carried out the investigations partly alone and partly with Angelo Gafa who now serves as Police CEO. Zammit said that there was not enough evidence to prosecute Dalli. He highlighted that no one interfered with his investigations.
Zammit told the board of inquiry that he resigned over divergence of opinion between him and former Home Affairs chief of staff Silvio Scerri.
Former MP Franco Debono was given police protection since 2012, and has had a police outside his door since. Zammit explained that Debono was at a “higher-risk” than journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. The former police commissioner explained that there was no order to revert protection granted to Caruana Galizia. He added that matters were left as he had found them.
Former Police Commissioner Michael Cassar also took the witness stand on Thursday. Cassar testified for almost an hour behind closed doors.
In the next public inquiry hearing, construction lobbyist Sandro Chetcuti and former Police Commissioner Ray Zammit are expected to testify.
The public inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is set to continue on Thursday afternoon. Former police chief Peter Paul Zammit and Michael Cassar were spotted outside the courtroom and are expected to testify during Thursday’s sitting.
During the last sitting Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia and former Police Chief John Rizzo took the witness stand. In sittings held last year, the family of the slain journalist testified.
Lawyers Therese Comodini Cachia, Jason Azzopardi, Peter Caruana Galizia, Andrew Borg Cardona and Eve Borg Costanzi are appearing for the family.
Former judge Michael Mallia is chairing the inquiry board, while Chief Justice Emeritus Joseph Said Pullicino and Judge Abigail Lofaro are the board’s other two members. The inquiry’s terms of reference stipulate that it must be concluded within nine months.
Cassar appeared to be somewhat hesitant. The board asked the public was subsequently asked to leave the courtroom.
Chief Justice Emeritus Said Pullicino asked about the FIAU report concerning Schembri and Tonna.
Cassar said that when the allegations emerged, he had asked whether the FIAU were working on it and was told that they were. He explained that sometimes the police would have initiated the investigation and pass it to the FIAU.
He explained that with regards to the FIAU report concerning Keith Schembri and Brian Tonna, he opened a case file called 'Operation Green' it was opened on 8 April 2016.
Madam Justice Lofaro asked Cassar whether he was approached by anyone from OPM, Ministries, etc.
Cassar said that he went abroad the next day. 'It was planned. At the time I was determined that I would leave,' Cassar said.
Said Pullicino and Lofaro pressed what led to his resignation.
Cassar said that it was not related to the police investigations, but 'administratively it was a different story.'
He explained that his investigating team was composed of two police inspectors, a Sargent and two police constables and these got some fifteen to sixteen reports annually.
Cassar said that the FIAU was better equipped than the police to investigate money laundering crimes.
Cassar said that no one interfered in his investigations. 'Ħadd mhu se jindaħħali f'investigazzjoni. Lanqas jazzardaw,' [No one will interfere with my investigations. They wouldn't dare] Cassar told the board of inquiry.
Madam Justice Abigail Lofaro asked about FIAU reports and whether there was any interference in the investigation.
Judge Emeritus Mallia asked Cassar about the level of threats against Caruana Galizia and the level of protection granted.
Cassar said that he asked about it and he was told about frequent patrols. He said that he had asked the police to pay greater attention to the residence and not just drive past. He said that he did this soon after his appointment. Cassar explained that it had crossed his mind to introduce a fix point, however, his officers had told him that Caruana Galizia had refused a fix point given by Rizzo.
Cassar said that having come from the Security Service he was not aware of any threats against Caruana Galizia.
Zammit was also asked whether the police investigated FIAU reports during his tenure. He replied that if he received a report he would pass it on for investigation. 'It was normal practice'.
'Most of the reports, the suspicious transactions report, would go directly to the Economic Crimes Unit. However, detailed report containing serious concerns, would go through the police commissioner,' Zammit explained.
Zammit added that he had raised the issue with Kessler, and said 'I had told him I expected better from him'.
Lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia asked whether he was related to Dalli. Zammit said that directly no, but John Dalli is a third degree relative of his wife.
Zammit said that he has had enough of hearing this story. He explained that Dalli's case was opened and closed and re-opened. He added that he did not decide on the case immediately and had carried out his investigation going over the case.
Chief Justice Emeritus Said Pullicino asked if whether what applied for Silvio Zammit, applied for Dalli. Zammit said that for Silvio Zammit there were already court proceedings.
Madam Justice Lofaro asked Zammit if any one government official had asked about the investigation into Dalli. He added that he took the initiative to send for Dalli. Zammit explained that no one from OPM, Ministry, or the executive spoke to him about the investigation.
'There was not enough evidence to prosecute. I reached the conclusion after seeing the Supervisory Committee report that Rizzo had not seen,' Zammit explained.
He recalled sending for disgraced EU Commissioner John Dalli. Zammit said that he investigated partly alone, and partly with Angelo Gafa (now Police CEO). He said that the AG did not have the full information.
There was an investigation by OLAF and another one by Rizzo. Zammit said that probably Rizzo was not aware of the report drawn up by the supervisory committee of OLAF.
He explained that he would discuss one thing on a day and the parameters would be changed over the following days.
This was about five or six months after he was appointed police commissioner.
Zammit said that at the time there was discussion about a possible Police CEO which he had opposed. He described the Police Force divided into four.
In a reply to Chief Justice Emeritus Said Pullicino, Zammit said that they would never discuss the details of an investigation and that they had the absolute freedom in investigations.
Zammit said that he was never told. He explained that he was summoned to the Office of the Prime Minister. He recalled being asked about his thoughts on the police and whether he was interested in assuming the role of commissioner. Zammit added that he gave his opinion and ideas about the police force.
Madam Justice Lofaro pressed whether there were any suggestions direct or indirect by the OPM. Zammit said that the Prime Minister accepted his proposals.
Judge Emeritus Mallia referred to Debono's reference, and asked when did he get a fixed point and whether the risk assessment was high. Zammit said that it was well before 2013 that Debono had a fixed point which is still there to this day. He explained that there was a higher risk assessment in his case. Zammit added that this was confirmed upon review which is why the fixed point remained.
The Board asked whether a record of patrol frequencies was kept. Zammit said that the patrolling officer inputs his record.
'As far as I aware, the frequent patrols took place,' Zammit said. Madam Justice asked 'are you assuming? Did you verify if the patrol actually took place?'
Zammit said that the patrols took place but he did not verify.
The witness was asked if the police were aware of the potential risk to the journalist and whether they had to wait for the parliamentary question. Zammit replied that Caruana Galizia was a controversial person and that there were many hotheads at election time.
Zammit said that the first time he was involved is when Caruana Galizia's front door was set on fire. At the same time, JRS suffered an arson attack.
Judge Emeritus Mallia asked whether what he was saying was that nothing changed when he took over.
Zammit replied that he did not give a different order. He said that there was no need to move the frequent patrol. 'I gave no order to remove that,' Zammit added.
Zammit said that there was a fixed point for some five days during the election. However, then there were frequent patrols. Judge Emeritus Mallia asked if details of the frequent patrols were recorded in a registry. Zammit said that such registry did not exist when he was a commissioner. He explained that changes in detail of duties were minuted in the police station concerned.
He referred to a fixed point outside Dr Franco Debono's house saying that was recorded at the district police station. The form of protection is detailed at the district police station.
Chief Justice Emeritus Said Pullicino pointed out that Muscat himself had called Rizzo about the journalist's protection. Zammit reiterated that the type of protection is detailed at the relative police station.
Judge Emeritus Mallia asked the witness what measures of protection did you find when he took over the Police.
Zammit referred to a parliamentary question, that there was a parliamentary question and frequent patrols.
Madame Justice Abigail Lofaro asked when was the PQ made. Zammit said that he did not recall the date but it was a few weeks after he took over.
Lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia is also present.