A cover-up for their superior’s lack of work, pressure to forgive fines and non-stop mind games – Maltese traffic officers have revealed different levels of deceit within the law enforcement system for the first time in an exclusive interview with Lovin Malta.
After over half of Malta’s traffic corps were arrested in February on suspicions of fraud, overtime excess and even money laundering, the officers’ lives have been put on standstill.
Three months later, and they have yet to be charged – and now they are speaking out about everything they’ve seen in the force as they say they are thrown under the bus.
“They said we forgive tickets, of course, we do… they force us to because they want the system to remain the old one, with pen and paper, they don’t want to use the PDA as we had in the past,” one officer told Lovin Malta.
“We used to forgive tickets upon requests of ministers, ministries, from both political parties… we forgave a lot of tickets, even belonging to officers. They forced us to. There’s a reason they don’t want to arrange the system and leave us with a biro and paper,” he continued.
“The service works with a hierarchy, everyone has a superior and if my superior says ‘this guy is my friend, ignore this ticket’… I have to work with him every day, should I tell him that I won’t?” said another officer.
“And some of the officers who investigated us would often ask us to forgive tickets themselves. We have records in the mobiles they took from us. They have no shame.”
They also spoke of being betrayed by their seniors… even after they requested political fealty from them.
“The Acting Commissioner said we stabbed him in the back, he made us guilty when we haven’t even been charged yet. He was in charge of traffic and is acting the virgin; at last year’s Christmas party in the garage, he told us to remain firm and ‘stick with the Labour Party which I love so much’… then he did what he did to us. Where was he when there were those irregularities? He was in charge of the traffic section so isn’t he complicit?”
The officers said they felt the entire arrests were due to the fact that that certain superiors wanted to show they were doing a good job. They also asked why nothing was done to high-ranking officers who attend full-time university lectures allegedly during work hours.
The officers also responded to allegations that they abused the system to receive overtime pay, saying that any abuse was minimal and should have been dealt with internally – and not a full-blown economic crimes unit investigation.
“There was a lot of abuse on extra duties – in Parliament on Sundays when Parliament doesn’t even open, and in the Valletta station and in the RIU. Yet they decided to pick on the traffic unit because the first whistleblower only spoke of us.”
And when asked whether they laundered money, one officers’ dry reply was clear: “Yes I have, when I would forget some coins in my trousers and when I put my trousers in the wash, the money would be washed along with them.”