The Head of Malta’s Civil Service Mario Cutajar may have been given unlawful access to the country’s Security Committee, Lawyer Jason Azzopardi warned during the testimony of Security Service (Secret Service) Chief Josef Bugeja.
Testifying under oath before the public inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Joseph Bugeja had this to say:
“In my briefings with the Security Committee, the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader, the Home Affairs Minister, the Foreign Affairs Minister, and the Head of Civil Service were present.”
The slip-up was immediately latched onto by Caruana Galizia family lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia. The pair pointed out that the law clearly states that the Civil Service should not be present.
When asked to clarify whether Cutajar was present for the meetings, Bugeja replied in the affirmative.
The Committee oversees Malta’s secret service, receiving detailed reports on cases or intercepts it would have worked on. Meanwhile, the law clearly states:
“The Security Committee shall consist of the Prime Minister, the Minister, the Minister responsible for Foreign Affairs and the Leader of the Opposition.”
The Head of Civil Service is not mentioned a single time in the Security Service’s act.
The reason for Cutajar’s presence on the committee is as yet unclear. He was recently in the news for attempting to rubbish middleman Melvin Theuma’s testimony, only to be proven wrong hours later.
He claimed he had issued the first press release on the orders of the Attorney General.
Bugeja’s testimony was short-lived after he insisted that he speak to the board behind closed doors.
The Secret Services have some unique questions to answer.
They have played a key role in the Caruana Galizia investigation. They were the first to inform former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his then-Chief of Staff Keith Schembri that Yorgen Fenech’s and Melvin Theuma’s phones were set to be tapped, at least a year before their eventual arrest.
Meanwhile, Muscat has insisted he kept up his friendship with Fenech and inviting him to his exclusive birthday party, despite knowing he was a suspect, on the Security Service’s orders.