Home affairs minister Michael Farrugia presented the ‘Officer of the Year’ award to Saviour Chircop last week. Photo: One News
Home affairs minister Michael Farrugia has ordered a policeman be stripped off the ‘Officer of the Year’ award he won last week after finding out the officer in question had twice been charged with domestic violence.
It was only last Sunday that Farrugia presented Saviour Chircop with the Officer of the Year award in recognition of how he had, while off-duty, stopped a man from attacking an old man with a knife.
However, The Times of Malta soon got wind of Chircop’s unsavoury history – that he had been charged in court with domestic violence against his wife in 2008 and 2011. In both cases, proceedings against Chircop fell flat after his wife backed out of testifying against him and told the court she did not want the case to proceed.
The police took the view that Chircop should not be punished for something he had not been found guilty in court.
“The court did not find the officer mentioned guilty. In view of the court decision, there was nothing to impede him from being nominated and subsequently awarded the Officer of the Year Award,” a police spokesperson told The Times.
However, Michael Farrugia took a far stricter approach, arguing that the mere fact Chircop had been charged with domestic violence was enough to warrant the revocation of his ‘Officer of the Year’ award.
Home affairs minister Michael Farrugia
“I believe we need to send a strong message that these things, including possession of drugs, are simply not acceptable, especially within the disciplined forces,” he said. “We are not taking them lightly. I have asked the police force to revoke the award. We are leading by example and we are setting the standards.”
Farrugia was last week accused by the Nationalist Party of justifying domestic violence after he defended former assistant commissioner Mario Tonna, who was forced to resign from the police force after his partner accused him of domestic violence. In a statement, Farrugia described Tonna as a “hard-working officer who worked long hours for the benefit of the public” and noted that his partner had retracted the accusations against him.
However, the Women’s Rights Foundation pointed out the law obliges the police to continue investigating domestic violence reports, even when the alleged victims retract the reports.