The Malta Independent 16 August 2022, Tuesday

Stagno Navarra complaint: False reports could lead to criminal charges – Hyzler

Thursday, 4 November 2021, 12:05 Last update: about 10 months ago

Anyone who makes a false declaration with a public authority could be exposing themselves to criminal action, Standards Commissioner George Hyzler has warned.

His comments came in a report on an investigation he had conducted into alleged dangerous driving by Nationalist MP Karol Aquilina.

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The complaint had been filed by Labour TV presenter Karl Stagno Navarra, as well as a certain Joe Cardona.

Stagno Navarra had shown dashboard footage which he claimed showed the PN MP ignoring police instructions, running a red light and endangering a police officer’s life.

The incident had taken place in June 2019 on December 13 Road in Marsa, while a the police were escorting a number of official vehicles to Valletta.

Aquilina has been acquitted by the courts, with a magistrate saying that the charges brought against the MP were “unsubstantiated.” The MP has also vowed to sue the police officer who leaked the footage to Stagno Navarra.

In a statement, the Standards Commissioner said he has dismissed allegations that Aquilina acted in a manner that reflected badly on Parliament by driving dangerously, ignoring police orders and driving through a red traffic light. He came to this conclusion Aquilina’s court acquittal.

Hyzler explained that he had had to suspend his investigation while the police investigation was underway, since the law precludes him from investigating matters that are subject to active police investigations.

The conclusion of legal proceedings enabled the Standards Commissioner to continue considering the case but, in light of the court judgement, Hyzler concluded that there had been no breach of ethics, and he dismissed the complaints accordingly.

In his report, the Commissioner made a number of observations, including that the footage aired on One TV was edited, and not the original.

The MP had observed all traffic regulations, including stopping at a stop sign. He was driving at a normal speed and used his indicated to switch lanes, Hyzler said.

The commissioner said that, had the police had evidence of a contravention, they would have been able to reach a conviction. He also pointed out the court’s own incredulity at the fact that the MP was arraigned on such baseless charges, especially when any dangerous maneuvres were carried out by the police, and not by other road users.

Police officers in high-visibility jackets are clearly seen in the footage signalling drivers to drive on, despite the red lights. “It is unclear whether Mr Stagno Navarra failed to observe his own footage, or whether he chose to ignore this evidence and state that the MP ran a red light,” Hyzler said. 

“A person who knowingly makes a false declaration with a public authority or submits a false report with the police would be exposing themself to charges of a criminal act,” he added.

 

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