Evidence against many traffic officers accused of being involved in an extra-duty racket is minimal, well-informed sources have claimed, warning that the investigation into the matter was rushed.
“Without a confession, there exists little criminal evidence against them,” sources said.
Around 41 members of the Police Force’s traffic section were arrested by the Economic Crimes Unit last February for allegedly getting paid for extra duties they never carried out. They are yet to be charged over three months later. Officers who spoke to Lovin Malta said the claims were grossly exaggerated.
The investigation started in October after a whistleblower came forward, and sources have questioned how such a wide-ranging investigation could be concluded within a handful of months.
“Normally you first collect all the evidence before arresting so you can prosecute. Don’t you think it’s strange that these officers haven’t been charged more than three months after their arrest?”
“It’s wrong what might have happened. But usually, these are issues that could have been handled with simple disciplinary action, with just the top dogs in the racket getting the blame. For some reason, the entire section was made an example of.”
“Arrests before all of the evidence is gathered might be something people might deem appropriate, but it’s a crucial mistake in criminal investigations,” sources said.
According to the Times of Malta, three members of the traffic police unit have already been cleared and are back patrolling the streets.
Some have started suggested that the investigation was a tool to deviate attention away from the Economic Crimes Unit’s inaction on alleged political corruption related to the notorious Panama Papers scandal.
Sources who spoke to Lovin Malta agree.
“I can understand the frustration, especially when they’ve always been relaxed about major inquiries against the big boys in the government,” they said.
Meanwhile, a Times of Malta report has suggested that the unit is pursuing money laundering charges against those involved. This has raised further questions as to whether this is an attempt to boost Malta’s chances in the crucial MoneyVal test – an exam the country failed last time around. There are very few money laundering cases ever year, despite Malta being a hub for big financial industries.
Beyond the racket, the investigation has also expanded into allegations that officers had disabled the GPS on their vehicles, siphoned fuel out of their police vehicles into their personal ones, and even forgave traffic fines in return for sexual favours, allegations they vehemently deny.
However, the officers now want their day in court and have been calling on investigators to charge them, if they even have anything to charge them with.
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