It looks like Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri considers the alleged case of a cocaine party at the AFM’s barracks closed, despite several questions remaining about how the army carried out its investigation.
Asked by Lovin Malta for details about this investigation, Camilleri merely referred to an AFM statement which said no illicit substances were consumed on the night of the alleged party but that “certain misdemeanours” could have occurred that day and disciplinary action will be taken accordingly.
However, the AFM statement was shorn of any details about the investigation. Crucially, they didn’t confirm the length of time between the incident and the urine tests, a crucial detail seeing as most tests can only detect cocaine use after a few days.
Allegations of a cocaine party at Lyster Barracks in Ħal Far first emerged last week when former soldier Godwin Schembri published a WhatsApp chat with a friend who informed him there was a “cocaine party” at the barracks two weekends prior.
According to Schembri’s tip-off, the cocaine had run out and a soldier surnamed Galea went out to buy some more. However, he didn’t bring his pass to the gate and when the guard commander didn’t let him leave, the soldier told him straight out that wanted to buy coke.
The soldier then allegedly tried to bite the guard commander, after which he was ordered to take a urine test. He refused and was discharged from the army.
No statement was issued by the AFM until Schembri published the WhatsApp chat, and then only to say that all soldiers who were on shift that day underwent urine tests and tested negative, except for one who refused to take the test and was discharged.
However, they didn’t state why everyone was asked to take a urine test in the first place or confirm the length of time between the incident and the urine tests, a crucial detail seeing as most tests can only detect cocaine use after a few days.
According to Schembri’s tip-off, the urine test was only conducted two days after the incident, prompting the former soldier to question why they weren’t tested straight away.
With that in mind, Lovin Malta sent these questions to Camilleri.
- Do you know if the police have investigated the soldier’s phone to see where he was buying cocaine from? I will be asking the police separately but i’d like to know if you have personally checked whether they are conducting an investigation.
- Are you concerned by the fact that soldiers who were allegedly at a cocaine party all tested negative? Do you think that maybe there was a weakness in the way they were tested?
- Can you confirm when the drug tests were conducted and whether they were blood/urine/hair tests?
- Are you aware that cocaine leaves the body after about two or three days so if some time had passed before the tests were conducted it would have been more useful to conduct hair tests which record cocaine use for a longer period of time?
- Would you be ready to order hair tests with AFM soldiers to ensure they are not making illegal use of cocaine?
However, his only response was to refer to the AFM’s statement and to say he has faith in the army’s internal disciplinary procedures.
Meanwhile, police have so far not confirmed whether or not they are investigating the alleged cocaine party and Schembri has accused the army’s commander Brig. Jeffrey Curmi of double standards.
“Why are you ready to destroy Maltese youths who are allegedly found with a gram of drugs during a road block but you weren’t ready to do the same against a shift of soldiers who allegedly did worse, while on shift and wearing their uniforms at the military barracks?” he asked.