A selection process for the post of assistant commissioner in Malta’s police force under Lawrence Cutajar was a “parody” which chose candidates on the basis of personal trust, Ombudsman Anthony Mifsud has warned.
The case dates back to 2016, when Superintendent Raymond D’Anastas raised concerns that he was not chosen for the promotion despite serving for close to 40 years in the police force with an impressive track record.
In a report, Mifsud referenced the “very worrying” appointment of Mario Tonna to the role.
Tonna, who had been found guilty of various criminal offences before being appointed to the role, later resigned over a domestic violence incident with his partner.
Tonna, Mifsud said, should have been automatically disqualified from the promotion.
At the time, Tonna was the Assistant Commissioner within the Traffic Department, which has since faced a massive investigation into fraud, misappropriation and money laundering linked to an overtime and extra duty racket.
When challenged on the appointments, Cutajar told Mifsud that he “trusted” the people he appointed.
The selection process saw a total of 21 people apply for the promotion – with the selection board, which was made up of Cutajar and former assistant commissioners Josie Brincat and Joseph Mangan, approving 14.
D’Anastas, who provided evidence to the Ombudsman that he led a drop in crime in the St Julian’s, raised concerns that his experience was not given enough weight in the selection process. He has filed a complaint with the Public Service Commission.
However, they did not agree. The Ombudsman agreed that D’Anastas, who was represented by lawyer David Bonello, was not given a fair shot at the role, noting that he could not understand why board members were able to ascertain and give marking to the personality, tact and emotional stability of applicants despite having zero experience in the field.
“The selection board completely ignored the manual,” Mifsud said, questioning whether this was intentional. Mifsud said that D’Anastas experience and track record meant he should have had a fair chance for the promotion.Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa may now be forced to issue a new call – while also handing out D’Anastas €15,000 as moral damages.
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