The Malta Independent 23 May 2018, Wednesday

Police Inspector Elton Taliana denies being investigated over arson attack

Helena Grech Monday, 20 March 2017, 15:50 Last update: about 2 years ago

Police Inspector Elton Taliana has denied ever being investigated over his involvement in an arson attack on the home of Saviour Balzan, managing editor of the local newsroom MaltaToday.

Inspector Taliana also refused, despite being asked multiple times, to divulge where he had moonlighted as a bouncer while stationed as a body guard to former Home Affairs Minister Tonio Borg.

While testifying in a case he himself instituted against MaltaToday, Inspector Taliana had alleged that the informant who passed on the information to former Police Commissioner John Rizzo about his alleged involvement in the arson attempt had a vested interest in getting the inspector into trouble.

Mr Taliana filed a libel case against Mr Balzan over an article titled: 'Police inspector in wrongful prosecution was investigated over 2007 arson.' The article linked Mr Taliana with an arson attack on Mr Balzan's Naxxar home.

Mr Balzan had said in a previous hearing that he passed on the information he had on Mr Taliana to former police commissioners John Rizzo and Peter Paul Zammit but no action was taken.

Mr Balzan had exhibited a number of documents in court, including pictures of a "drunk" Mr Taliana. Other pictures show Mr Taliana with people who have been convicted for drug possession and theft, Mr Balzan said.

In this morning's hearing, Mr Taliana repeatedly denied ever being investigated over the arson attack.

Representing Mr Balzan, Lawyer Veronique Dalli questioned the Inspector about any connections he may have with two well-known men within Malta's criminal circles, Duncan Petroni who had been detained in Brazil on drug trafficking charges and Paschalino Cefai.

"I had nothing to do with Duncan Petroni or Pasqualino Cefai," Taliana told Magistrate Francesco Depasquale, presiding over the case, this morning.

Turning to the issue of Mr Taliana moonlighting as a bouncer while stationed within the Home Affairs Ministry, he confirmed that he had never worked as a bouncer in Paceville. The newsroom had brought up the investigation into Mr Taliana moonlighting as a bouncer at a nightclub in order to substantiate claims that he had access to dubious characters.

"I have never worked as a bouncer in Paceville", Mr Taliana said. Dr Dalli, trying to ascertain where exactly it was he worked as a bouncer, however Mr Taliana and his lawyer, Joe Zammit Maempel, objected to responding citing relevance to the case.

Mr Taliana confirmed that he had failed to seek prior permission to work part time as a bouncer for the nightclub in question.

Magistrate Depasquale then read out an extract from the confidential report compiled by former Police Commissioner John Rizzo. It had said that information reached his office regarding Mr Taliana, about how "unsuitable" he was for his current role, how the information referred to his part-time work as a bouncer, and that he "indulged in importation of firearms" and "had set fire to a door"

Following a heated argument regarding the place where Mr Taliana worked as a bouncer, he had denied ever importing firearms.

Turning to the arson attack, Mr Taliana explained that he was stationed at the Home Affairs Ministry with Tonio Borg back in 2006. He said that he found the accusations of his involvement so "malicious" because he was not an inspector at the time and only got to know of the attack through local media.

He further explained that he was never questioned in connection to the attack because the informant had passed on conflicting information about his involvement. Mr Taliana said that the informant never told Mr Rizzo specifically about the arson, but said that the inspector had thrown paint on the door, despite no paint ever being found on Mr Balzan's front door.

Dr Dalli questioned the inspector about the arrest of Darren Luke Borg, and whether he had ever been in his presence.

"I had once arraigned Stephen Mifsud known as in-Naqqu on drug trafficking and I had spoken to Mr Borg, only because Mr Borg would buy drugs from him," said Mr Taliana.



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