Story updated with Karol Aquilina’s comments.
Two traffic policemen who wanted to press dangerous driving charges against Nationalist MP Karol Aquilina last June were discouraged from doing so by senior police officers, one of whom is a well-known Labour Party sympathiser, Lovin Malta is informed.
Aquilina, who is the Nationalist Party’s spokesman on good governance, was filmed apparently running a red light, disobeying police orders and driving dangerously around two police motorcyclists who were escorting diplomat vehicles. The incident took place on June 3rd 2019.
It took almost an entire year for the incident to be made public. The footage was only published last week by the Labour Party’s TV station on a programme hosted by presenter Karl Stagno Navarra, who said he also reported Aquilina to the Standards Commissioner.
Now, sources have told Lovin Malta that the two police officers involved felt their lives were endangered by Aquilina’s actions and had filed a police report hoping for charges to be brought against him.
However, they were discouraged from pursuing the matter by senior police staff, at least one of whom is well known within the police corps as being very close to Labour.
The police officers could not understand why this Labourite police officer was so intent on protecting Aquilina, sources said.
This has prompted fears that the video was used to blackmail Aquilina rather than for the issue to be properly investigated.
Sources told Lovin Malta it was not uncommon for senior officers to sometimes tell traffic officers to forgive MPs. However, in this case, the officers were frustrated because this was not a normal fine for something like bad parking but an incident in which the lives of police officers was put at risk.
Interestingly, back in 2014, now Education Minister Owen Bonnici had faced police charges but was acquitted over a negligent driving incident.
In a statement issued after the publication of the video, Aquilina claimed that “a very senior police officer”, with the blessing of Prime Minister Robert Abela, was attempting to blackmail him to stop talking about corruption by former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his right-hand men Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.
When contacted by Lovin Malta, Aquilina said the footage was taken from a private dashcam footage and was recently leaked in an attempt to condition him over his criticism of government.
“I have been on the frontline of criticising the Labour Party and government for the past years to expose corruption and bad governance. I take my job extremely seriously. And this is just an unjust attempt to damage my name. I will not back down,” he said.
Aquilina said the matter was never pursued by the police because he did nothing wrong on the day.
The PN spokesman on good governance vehemently denied the accusations levelled against him by Karl Stagno Navarra and insisted that the footage published by the Labour Party’s TV station last week confirmed he had done nothing wrong.
“I have made it clear that when passing through the traffic lights I did so on the clear instructions of two Transport Malta officers who are seen in the footage wearing high visibility vests and telling drivers to proceed. This is almost a daily occurrence in this particular spot in Triq Dicembru Tlettax during busy hours.”
Aquilina also made it clear that the vehicles seen in the footage are privately owned and did not have any dignitaries in them.
Aquilina recently published the contract of former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar as a government advisor, he asked for ministers to return money they misused on Facebook and he asked for Joseph Muscat’s resignation letter to be published.
“They want to blackmail me into silence. I will not give in to their threats and blackmail,” he said.
Immediately after the incident, Aquilina had informed Speaker Anglu Farrugia about the case, however he denies trying to invoke his parliamentary privilege.
According to Maltese law, being charged with reckless, negligent or dangerous driving could result in a fine of up to 1,200 euro or imprisonment for up to a year. This case could have also been aggravated by the fact that Aquilina is an MP and could be charged with disobeying police orders. If found guilty, there could have even been a chance for Aquilina to lose his legal warrant.
Lovin Malta has asked the police whether they ever investigated the incident and why they never pressed charges. No reply has been forthcoming.