The Malta Independent 15 April 2021, Thursday

Top-level public officer was arrested to force resignation, MP claims

Wednesday, 3 March 2021, 07:58 Last update: about 2 months ago

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi claimed on Tuesday that a top-level public officer was forced to hand in his resignation after being arrested on “made-up criminal allegations”.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Azzopardi called for the resignation of Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar for “abuse of power” in connection with the 2013 incident.

Azzopardi said the officer, employed at the Inland Revenue Department, was asked by Cutajar to step down from his role. When he refused, saying he had not done anything wrong, the permanent secretary threatened him with criminal action. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Azzopardi did not give the man’s name to protect his privacy. 

Cutajar refused to put down his claims in writing, but later the officer was arrested on “fabricated criminal allegations,” Azzopardi said.

The officer was arrested on 24 April 2013 by the fraud section on the order of then-Police Commissioner Peter Paul Zammit. The inspector handling the case was Angelo Gafà (now police commissioner), who was acting on the orders by Zammit, the MP said. 

While under arrest, the officer was offered financial compensation from Castille if he stepped down quietly and that there would be no charges brought against him, Azzopardi claimed.

“Every single time he [Zammit] spoke to him, the offer went up,” Azzopardi told parliament. 

The official was released after Gafà intervened, Azzopardi said, as Castille continued to pile pressure on him to resign. He buckled under the pressure and resigned a few days later. 

“What will Abela do about Cutajar? Why is Abela comfortable with a permanent secretary who was ready to treat an honest and exemplary public official so inhumanely?” Azzopardi asked.

Azzopardi called for the resignation of Cutajar to resign and accused the Prime Minister of being nothing but a “continuation” of his predecessor Joseph Muscat.

 

  • don't miss