Malta’s police seemed unprepared in their arrest of former Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, Matthew Caruana Galizia has warned, insisting that he should have been arraigned immediately rather than release him on police bail.
“Police have been working on this investigation for four years. So we’re left wondering what has happened in that time? A magisterial inquiry should not replace a police investigation,” Caruana Galizia said on today’s edition of Lovin Daily.
Schembri, who was arrested soon after the conclusion of an inquiry into kickbacks from the citizenship-by-investment scheme, was released on police bail late last night. His release came just hours after his lawyers said they were refusing to participate in the interrogation process without the disclosure of the inquiry’s conclusions.
Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna and Karl Cini remain under arrest in connection with the offence.
Caruana Galizia was hopeful that the arrest was just a step in the right direction, but still raised concerns over the current police procedure, insisting that they are rushing to make up on lost time after years of inaction.
The arrest comes just months after major changes within enforcement authorities, with Angelo Gafa taking the role of Police Commissioner, and Alexandra Mamo serving as the new head of the Economic Crimes Unit.
“I have no doubt that current head of Economic unit is a million times better than Ian Abdilla, who was in a seemingly corrupt relation with Keith Schembri and Yorgen Fenech,” Caruana Galizia said.
Caruana Galizia was clear that these arrests should have happened years ago, with Schembri and Nexia BT’s criminal web yet to be fully unveiled.
“If action was taken in 2016, my mother would likely still be alive,” he said.
He rubbished Prime Minister Robert Abela’s insistence that the acts of a few men were not reflective of the current administration, claiming that Schembri led a criminal organisation in the government.
“Abela is of course trying to defend himself, but that’s not his job, his job is to protect the interests of the public and justice,” he said.
Ultimately, he said, that only prosecution across the entire system of alleged corruption would be the solution that will allow the country to rebuild from the crisis.
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