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Traffic Police Officers In Overtime Scandal Could Lose The Right To Vote And Be Banned From Public Office: A Look At Interdiction

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Police officers caught in an overtime and extra work racket that has plagued an entire section of the police force could lose their right to vote and be banned from working in the public sector ever again if they’re found guilty.

Interdiction, not to be confused with horrific Church interdiction on the Labour Party in the 1960s, is a punishment usually meted out to individuals who abuse public office and disqualifies the person from holding any similar office or from employment in general.

While the criminal code says that the interdicted will only lose their right to hold “any public office or employment”, a separate clause in electoral law also precludes them from voting.

The ban could be either temporary or permanent, depending on the role the person holds and the seriousnesses of the crime. In the case of a police officer, who is ordered to protect the public, the punishments are more severe.

The scheme saw traffic officers make away with tens of thousands of euros by reporting for overtime for work they would not turn up for. There are also claims officers would collect ‘protection money’ from construction firms and misappropriate fuel.

41 traffic police officers have been arrested and no one has been charged yet. So far four officers have resigned from their roles, including the traffic section’s superintendent Walter Spiteri.  However, there are concerns that this is a just an underhanded move to keep hold of their state-funded pension.

Meanwhile, questions over the role of Assistant Commissioner Anthony Cassar remain.

The police officers could potentially lose their right to vote or hold public office for their entire lives if they’re found guilty in a criminal court. But their potential interdiction might not stop there, with the civil court also holding power to take away a person’s right to take loans, buy property, or enter into contracts.

However, this is usually reserved for persons with severe mental health issues and is only applied in extreme cases with a tiny minority of Mount Carmel patients interdicted.

We’ve seen criminal interdictions dished out in the past, famously in the VAT scandal and more recently a Legal Procurator who filed a false domestic violence report.

While the criminal code says that the interdicted will only lose their right to hold “any public office or employment”, a separate clause in electoral law precludes them from voting.

In 2018, the government launched an online register of interdicted persons and officials barred from holding office. However, this is only available to lawyers, notaries and legal procurators.

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