Former Police Commissioner John Rizzo, along with Attorney General Peter Grech, were ready to prosecute former EU Commissioner John Dalli but were stopped due to Rizzo’s removal by the newly-elected Labour Party a week later.
The EU’s anti-fraud office OLAF had implicated Dalli for allegedly pursuing a €60 million bribe from Swedish Match, the leading producer of Swedish snus, but Dalli was never charged in Malta’s courts.
Speaking during a public inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Rizzo detailed how he had informed the then newly elected Home Affairs Minister Manuel Mallia of his plan to prosecute Dalli a few weeks after the Labour government was elected in March 2013.
“In the meeting, I made it clear that we had enough evidence to prosecute John Dalli,” Rizzo said.
In his testimony, Rizzo revealed that police were planning to arrest and interrogate Dalli the moment the former EU Commissioner returned to Malta from Brussels, but Rizzo himself was removed as police commissioner a week after revealing his plans to Mallia.
Dalli returned to Malta the day after Rizzo’s removal.
“At the time, Dalli was abroad,” Mr Rizzo recalled, “In fact he came [to Malta] the day after I resigned. I resigned on Friday, and Dalli arrived in Malta on Saturday”.
Meanwhile, within three days of being appointed, Rizzo’s successor Peter Paul Zammit ruled there was not enough evidence to continue with the case.
Rizzo, it seems, accepted the decision, telling the court that he was in no place to challenge the new Police Commissioner.
On his removal, Rizzo revealed that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat offered him any position he wanted and a €10,000 consultancy. While he was reluctant to step down, he eventually agreed, being persuaded with the offer of heading Malta’s Secret Service. He turned down the consultancy out of principle.
However, while Muscat accepted Rizzo’s request, the Prime Minister’s then chief of staff Keith Schembri turned it down the next day, moving him onto the Civil Protection Department.
Rizzo did not question his removal at the time, telling the inquiry board that he simply assumed that it was the result of a change in administration.