Watch: Police bail period can extend to 3 months – Police Commissioner

Fourth person was arrested in money laundering probe

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà said that the police bail period is normally three months, and can be extended further as needed. This was said this while answering a question from Newsbook.com.mt as to whether any people would be arraigned in court in connection with the arrests made between Monday and Tuesday night.

Last Tuesday, Keith Schembri, Joseph Muscat’s former chief of staff, was arrested on suspicion of money laundering in connection with a magisterial inquiry into alleged bribery from passport sales. Brian Tonna and Karl Cini from Nexia BT were also questioned. According to Schembri’s lawyers, he was arrested at around 12.30am on Tuesday and released on bail at around 9.30pm on the same day.

On Monday, Judge Edwina Grima ordered an asset freeze against Schembri and others affiliated with Nexia BT, including Brian Tonna and Karl Cini, as well as Schembri’s company and others. The court concluded that there is reasonable suspicion that money laundering offences have been committed. The order followed a request by the Attorney General to freeze the assets of 40 individuals and several companies. On Wednesday, Matthew Caruana Galizia wrote that a second asset freeze has been ordered against Keith Schembri.

Answering Newsbook.com.mt‘s question, Gafà said that he does not intend to allow excessive delays.

Fourth person was arrested in money laundering probe

Journalists’ questions following the news conference on the Police Force’s strategy for the next five years, revolved around the arrests made in the last week, particularly the arrest of the former Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri.

Commissioner Gafà said that four people were arrested between Monday and Tuesday night. These arrests led to searches at various locations and the seizure of documents. He said the four people had been granted police bail. He explained that Police bail means that there is the need for further investigations before a person is arraigned in Court.

Journalists began referring to people arrested by name and asking about specific people, but the Commissioner cited the law regulating police work with the media. He said the law says no member of the police force can give details to the media about the identity of someone who is arrested on reasonable suspicion. He said the law does not give him the right to talk about any specific politicians. He went on to say, however, that at the right time, the Police will give all the details without breaking the law.

He explained how the arrests of these people took place even when secret court documents were issued in public. He said this prompted police to act quickly to preserve any documents he needed to elevate. He pointed out that the four people had been arrested on allegations of corruption that potentially also included money laundering.

Gafà claimed that investigations over the past three years have never stopped. He said that the inquiry is an investigation that will need certain experts who are not in the Police Force and thus the Force will have to ask for external help. As a result, there will be delays. He was replying to a journalist’s comment that the allegations against the people arrested had been in the public domain for three years.

The Commissioner did not comment on the work of his predecessors. He said he is there to be judged on the work he does.

The Malta Police Force launched its Transformation Strategy for 2020-2025 on Friday. The document which consists of 11 strategic objectives consisting of 49 goals for the upcoming years.