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Watch: Franco Debono Warns Malta Becoming A ‘Regime’ And Asks Why Police Didn’t Speak To Chris Fearne

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Renowned criminal lawyer Franco Debono has warned that Malta risks becoming a regime in light of reports that Chris Fearne and others will be charged over the Vitals deal without being questioned by the police.

“I am sincerely shocked that I live in a country where a human, it doesn’t matter who it is but we’re talking about the deputy Prime Minister here, is reportedly facing charges without first being questioned by the police,”  Debono said on Andrew Azzopardi’s RTK103 radio show today.

“When the inquiry into Keith Schembri and others concluded, the police summoned people, took their statements and charged them later.”

“It saddens me to say this because I respect both Robert Abela and Jonathan Attard, but it has always been taken as a given that the police speak to you before charging you. If you don’t want to answer, you have a right to remain silent, but if you want to reply, you have the opportunity to do so.”

“Are we saying that the police can knock on your door one fine day, tell you that you are being charged with money laundering and that you could up in prison for 18 years, without anyone speaking to you?”

Although Prime Minister Robert Abela has hit out at the credibility of magistrate Gabriella Vella for concluding the inquiry on the eve of an election, Debono pointed out that the Attorney General and police are ultimately responsible for the charges and that they typically carry out their own investigations prior to proceeding in court.

“I have been working as a criminal lawyer for 24 years and it’s extremely rare for the police not to call suspects in, and there would usually be a reason for it. Perhaps if Chris Fearne had been called in, he could have justified his position and wouldn’t have been charged.”

He said that while he doesn’t know why the police acted this way, they would have seriously dented Abela’s political narrative had they followed normal procedure.

Chris Fearne

Chris Fearne

“I don’t want to attribute ulterior motives to anyone, but if [the police had questioned Fearne and others], those who embarked on an ugly campaign of incitement against the magistrate wouldn’t have been able to keep up the campaign because the police would have investigated too.”

“I can’t say why it happened but I can say that, from experience, it is shocking and shameful. I don’t even want to get into whether this practice is expressly mentioned in the criminal code or not because we always took it for granted that the police speak to you before charging you.”

“I respect the Prime Minister, but it’s not enough for him to simply praise Chris Fearne. I ask him whether he is comfortable leading a country where the Deputy Prime Minister gets charged without the police speaking to him? If he fine in this regime?”

Urging the people to “rebel” against the state of play, Debono warned that it could have much wider repercussions.

“These are high-profile people who have been charged, let alone what they can do with the man in the street.”

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society and is passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Instagram or Twitter/X at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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