Magistrate orders criminal investigation into former Police Chief Cutajar

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Magistrate Rachel Montebello has launched an immediate criminal investigation against former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar over his potential involvement in leaks connected to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Lawyer Jason Azzopardi who is appearing for the Caruana Galizia family made a request to the Court asking to consider ordering the Police to investigate Cutajar for breaching the Criminal Code and the Police Act. The request came at the end of a nine-hour sitting in the compilation of evidence against murder suspect Yorgen Fenech who stands accused of being an accomplice in the assassination plot.

Fenech’s legal team composed of lawyers Marion Camilleri, Gianluca Caruana Curran and Charles Mercieca agreed wholeheartedly to the proposal put forward by Azzopardi.

Magistrate Montebello acceded to the request.

Johann Cremona who was Fenech’s business partner testified under oath that Theuma had been allegedly informed by Cutajar that Europol were aware of the recordings the former made of the conversations he had with Fenech. Cremona also said that Cutajar had asked Theuma whether he could listen to them before the latter’s arrest. Cremona was testifying during the marathon sitting on Monday.

In court, Cremona said that Theuma had been informed that he was subject to a money-laundering investigation by the former police commissioner himself.

Theuma himself had also testified in court that Cutajar had asked Edgar Brincat known as il-Ġojja about the secret recordings. Brincat was also arrested along with Theuma, only to be released later.

Brincat who has known Cutajar for some 30 years, told the court that he knew Cutajar from Birżebbuġa and later met him at Marsa as a bookmaker. He had visited Cutajar at his home to try and fix a traffic fine. During the meeting, Cutajar told the witness that Theuma was involved in a “hot case”. The former police commissioner had allegedly chased Brincat for Theuma’s recordings. However he flatly denied that Theuma and Cutajar knew each other, noting that Theuma was better informed about the dates when the raids would happen.

Cutajar fired from consultancy job

Cutajar who had come under fire several times during his tenure with various quarters demanding his resignation, resigned from his post when Robert Abela was appointed as Prime Minister. He was later awarded a consultancy job from which he has been recently suspended until facts are “clarified”. On Monday, it also emerged in Parliament that his suspension was without pay.

Later on Monday, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced that it had terminated Cutajar’s consultation job within its ministry with immediate effect. The Ministry said that the consultation job was already suspended following “allegations” which were made in court in reference to statements made under oath. The Ministry said that decision was taken in view of the latest developments in court.

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The Opposition referred to the criminal proceedings against Fenech during which lawyer Jason Azzopardi requested the presiding Magistrate to order that Cutajar is placed under criminal investigation. Magistrate Rachel Montebello acceded to the request placing Cutajar formally under criminal investigation.

Within hours, the government announced that Cutajar has been fired following Monday’s sitting.

“The Labour-led Government instead of fighting corruption insists on defending and protecting those involved,” PN said on Monday.

The PN highlighted that the links between the government, high ranking Police officers and criminal elements in the country posed a serious threat to the country’s democracy.

“The government has chosen to remain silent and refrain from taking any action,” the statement reads.