A former police officer has been fined €10,000 and had his mobile phone confiscated after a court found him guilty of leaking a police tip-off that PN leader Adrian Delia was selling drugs out of his car.
In August 2017, now-assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia published an internal police report made by a police officer to his superiors. The report states that the police had received an anonymous phonemail in September 2016 alleging that a man was selling drugs out of a grey Mercedes in a street in Qormi, close to the LIDL store.
The street happened to be a stone’s throw away from where a number of drug raids took place in recent years, including one major one last January.
Police went on site, found the locked car and waited for the owner to arrive. That person turned out to be Delia, but no illegal substances were found after an intensive search on his person and car.
When contacted by Caruana Galizia, Delia confirmed that this incident took place.
“This event had shocked me at the time, as I suppose it would any law-abiding citizen,” he said. “As the report itself says, the police had told me that this was an anonymous call and I didn’t have any clue about why and who could have done it.”
Two days later, Caruana Galizia reported that a police sergeant deployed to the Qormi station had been arrested and heavily interrogated on suspicion of having leaked this report to her.
Back then, she said that her source wasn’t a member of the police force and that she would testify under oath to that effect if the sergeant were to be prosecuted or brought before the Police Board.
However, ONE News reported a few days later that a police sergeant had been suspended after a photo of the police report that was published by Caruana Galizia was found in his mobile phone.
They also named the police officer in question as Roderick Sammut, who used to work as a security officer for former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi.
Yesterday, Sammut was formally found guilty after magistrate Frendo Dimech ruled that there wasn’t the slightest doubt that he had taken a photo of the police report and had passed it on to a third party
As part of their investigations, police found that Sammut had accessed the National Police System (PIRS) four times between 14th June and 13th August to search for information about Delia.
An examination of his phone revealed two photos of a police report among the ‘sent’ items of his WhatsApp folder, one of which was identical to the one published by Caruana Galizia, down to the location of the cursor.
Although evidence of communication between Sammut and Caruana Galizia could be found, Frendo Dimech said it was clear that he had used his phone to pass on the report to a third party.
She pointed out that there was no evidence that Sammut had needed to access this police report in relation to his duties or that his phone or password to access the police system had been leaked to someone else.
Noting that he had shown “no remorse” for his behaviour, the magistrate fined him €10,000, confiscated his phone and ordered him to pay €1,091 in legal fees.