The Malta Independent 12 August 2020, Wednesday

Disgraced former assistant commissioner among applicants for police top job

Neil Camilleri Friday, 22 May 2020, 17:05 Last update: about 4 months ago

A former Assistant Police Commissioner who resigned in controversial circumstances has applied for the force's top job.

Mario Tonna was one of fourteen people who applied for the post of Police Commissioner last week, three different police sources have confirmed.

Tonna resigned in January 2018 in the wake of reports that his former partner had reported him for domestic violence.

A couple of months later, he was reportedly involved in a drunken hit-and-run incident over which he was expected to be arraigned in court.


Sources have described Tonna's decision to apply for Police Commissioner as "very surprising."


Police reports

PN newspaper il-Mument had reported that his former partner had filed a police report at the Sliema police station on 28 December 2017. She had claimed that the Assistant Police Commissioner had headbutted her during a domestic argument, injuring her nose. It was reported that this was not the first alleged case of domestic violence.

Then Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar had told TVM that the investigation was close to being concluded and that Tonna's voluntary resignation did not mean that the case would stop.

The case ended up in court and Tonna was acquitted after the woman refused to testify against him after being cautioned that she could face criminal proceedings.

Tonna was back in the news two months later after he was allegedly involved in traffic accident. The former assistant commissioner allegedly drove off after crashing into a number of cars in Sliema but was subsequently apprehended and questioned by the police. Tonna had failed a breathalyser test, according to reports. He was later acquitted due to lack of proof.

In June 2018, it was reported that he was back on the state payroll as an employee with the Contracts Department.


Harassed superior officer

Tonna had another encounter with the law in 2011 when, as a police inspector he had been found guilty of intimidating and harassing his superior, Superintendent Carmelo Bartolo. He was also found guilty of making inappropriate use of a mobile phone and of committing a crime he was duty-bound to prevent as a police officer.

The original judgment in Tonna's case was confirmed by the Court of Criminal Appeal a year later with the exception that he was found guilty of harassment but not intimidation. He had received a conditional discharge.

Despite the conviction, Tonna was promoted to Superintendent in 2015 and was made Assistant Police Commissioner in 2017.


Eligibility criteria

The call for applications for the post of Commissioner of Police opened on 24 April.

One of the eligibility requirements is for candidates to be "of conduct which is appropriate to the position."

Applicants were required to present a 4-year plan, a Motivational Statement and a Certificate of Conduct.

Candidates must also be "accountable, self-confident, assertive and emotionally intelligent; possess the right acumen, aptitude, people and leadership skills to engage and motivate the entire Police Force in the successful attainment of individual and organisational goals and; show evidence of being able to successfully lead a transformational change in the Police Force.

Under the new system, approved by Parliament recently, the applicants will be vetted by the Public Service Commission, which will choose the best two candidates. The Prime Minister will then choose the candidate he believes is best suited for the post. The chosen candidate will then face Parliament's Public Appointments Committee for scrutiny by both the government and the Opposition.


The candidates

Most of the applicants are serving members on the force or have a police or law enforcement history.

They are: lawyer and former police inspector Mary Muscat, lawyer and retired police inspector Herman Mula, Immigration Section Inspector Frankie Sammut, former POU-GWU president and founder Sandro Camilleri, Assistant Police Commissioner Alexandra Mamo, Malta Police Force CEO Angelo Gafa, Hamrun District Inspector Robert Vella, Sliema District Inspector Jonathan Ransley, Vice Squad Inspector Joseph Busuttil, former police officer Emanuel Cassar, former acting police commissioner Ray Zammit, former AFM officer and maritime consultant Reuben Lanfranco and marketing man and banker Leo Busuttil.

The Malta Police Force is currently led by Acting Police Commissioner Carmelo Magri. He took over after the resignation of Lawrence Cutajar earlier this year.

Magri said in an interview with The Malta Independent on Sunday that he is not going to apply for the post, and will be retiring in September after serving on the force for over 35 years.


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