The role of the police was scrutinised during Thursday's session of the public inquiry into whether the state could have prevented the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. 

Former police commissioners Peter Paul Zammit and Michael Cassar gave evidence to the panel about the protection afforded to the journalist, who was murdered outside her home in 2017.

Scroll down to read the evidence, as it happened.

Inquiry continues Monday

4.56pm That's all from the inquiry today, we've been told. It continues on Monday when another ex-police commissioner, Ray Zammit, is scheduled to testify along with Malta Developers Association chief Sandro Chetcuti

Recap: Why was Daphne not given permanent police protection?

4.33pm  Mr Cassar is still continuing his evidence behind closed doors. While we're waiting to find out if we'll hear more, let's recap on what we have heard today.

Remember this inquiry is largely about trying to establish whether the state did enough to prevent Daphne Caruana Galizia from being murdered in 2017.

So far today, we've heard from two former police commissioners about that issue.

  • Ex-police chief Peter Paul Zammit, said he "gave no order" to reduce the police protection for Ms Caruana Galizia and "left matters as they stood". 
  • Former MP Franco Debono was regarded as a "higher risk" than Ms Caruana Galizia at the time and was given permanent - fixed point - police protection.
  • Mr Zammit's successor Michael Cassar, said that Ms Caruana Galizia was given fixed point police protection during elections and other times but not on a permanent basis.
  • He said that it "crossed my mind" to introduce permanent fixed point protection but that he was told the journalist had previously refused it. 

Did anyone interfere in your job Mr Cassar?

4.05pm Mr Cassar is asked if his decision to resign had anything to do with the report that highlighted some Politically Exposed Persons in relation to the Schembri-Tonna loan. 

"Did anyone interfere in your job, Mr Cassar?" he is asked.

"Not in investigations but administrative-wise it was a different matter," he says.

At this point Mr Cassar is asked by the inquiry board if he would be more comfortable giving details behind closed doors.

"We are after the truth here," inquiry board member Justice Abigail Lofaro says.

Mr Cassar appears to be somewhat hesitant. The Board asks all members of the public, except Daphne’s relatives, to leave the room. Mr Cassar continues his testimony behind closed doors.

'Operation Green'

3.56pm Mr Cassar refers to one of the cases he received about Keith Schembri and Brian Tonna. There were allegations about a €100,000 loan from Mr Schembri to Mr Tonna. 

Mr Cassar said that when the allegations emerged, he was "told that the FIAU were working on it".

"The police have to make sure not to overlap and do double work," he says. 

Mr Cassar refers to 'Operation Green', which he says was opened in April 8 2016. It is put to him that there are PEPs (Politically Exposed Persons) in this report.

"Did anyone speak to you about it?" he is asked.

"No. I went abroad the next day. It was planned. At the time I was determined to leave. I had taken the decision in December."

We have previously reported that Mr Cassar resigned a day after the FIAU recommended further investigations into the loan. 

Authorities 'wouldn't dare' interfere in investigations

3.50pm Mr Cassar is asked whether there was any interference from any authorities into police investigations?

"No, never. They wouldn’t even dare," he responds. He says there was "no interference" into reports from the FIAU, who had "wider and greater powers" that the police to get information.  

"Unfortunately, police cannot use material they get from the FIAU," he explains,"so there is double work."

He said that when he was in the role there was a money laundering investigation team, who received 15 - 16 reports annually, including a report about the prime minister's former chief of staff Keith Schembri and Nexia BT's Brian Tonna.

No 'fixed point' protection order 

3.43pm Mr Cassar is explaining when Daphne Caruana Galizia had 'fixed point' protection - ie an officer stationed at her home.

He says that this happened at election times and other dates. He adds that he never had any order from the "executive authorities" on the matter.

Speaking as a victim, he says that it was not always "comfortable" for people to have fixed point protection.

High-profile journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bomb outside her home in October 2017. Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaHigh-profile journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bomb outside her home in October 2017. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

Former police chief Michael Cassar testifies

3.41pm Next to take the oath is another former police chief, Michael Cassar, who was commissioner from December 2014 - April 2016.

Again, the first question is around the level of protection afforded to Daphne Caruana Galizia.

"I had asked about it and was told of patrols, frequent patrols. I told them to add greater attention to the residence, not just to drive past," he said.

"It honestly crossed my mind to introduce a fixed point." 

He said he was told by his officers that when (previous police commissioner) John Rizzo was planning to introduce a fixed point, Ms Caruana Galizia had refused that level of protection.

Michael Cassar, pictured when he was police commissioner. Photo: Matthew MirabelliMichael Cassar, pictured when he was police commissioner. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Process of handling FIAU reports

3.34pm Mr Zammit is asked whether police investigated FIAU reports during his time in the role.

He said it was "normal practice" for any reports to be "passed on for investigation".

"I would not investigate personally but would order immediate investigation. Most FIAU reports went directly to the economic crimes unit." He said most reports were "suspicious transactions reports" and that other "more serious" reports would go through the commissioner. 

"Like Panama Papers?" he is asked.

"It would definitely go on to be investigated," comes the reply. 

Are you related to John Dalli?

3.29pm Mr Zammit is asked if he is related to John Dalli, the former EU Commissioner and Nationalist minister.

"Directly no. But he is a third degree cousin of my wife," he replies.

John DalliJohn Dalli

'The matter of John Dalli'

3.21pm During his testimony on Tuesday, ex-police commissioner John Rizzo said he wanted to press charges against former European Union commissioner John Dalli over bribery allegations.

Asked about that, Mr Zammit said he went "through the whole file" but there were "certain shortcomings".

"A report was filed. That report was kept hidden until 2014."  He said he sent for Dalli and investigated the allegations "partly alone and partly with (Angelo) Gafa (CEO).

"There was an investigation by (anti-fraud agency) OLAF and another by Rizzo. Rizzo probably wasn’t aware of the report drawn up by the supervisory committee of OLAF. That report remained hidden until 2014. There was a lack of disclosure."

He is asked to assure the inquiry that his appointment had nothing to do with the case. 

"I’ll explain further. This case was reopened, facts gone over again, and checked. I did not close Dalli’s case. The news that he would not be arraigned had been published on Dissett.

"Did anyone from Castille, the ministry or executive talk to you about the Dalli case?" he is asked.

"No. I can assure you. There was not enough evidence to prosecute. I reached that conclusion after seeing a report of the supervisory committee that Rizzo had not seen."

He criticised the OLAF investigation as being "lacking even in the gathering of evidence" including allegations of meetings "which actually did not take place".

He said he told OLAF's Director General, Giovanni Kessler that he "expected better of him".

I resigned over 'divergence of opinion'

3.16pm Asked about why he resigned, Mr Zammit said there was a "divergence of opinion" between him and the police minister's former chief of staff Silvio Scerri.

"I wanted more input in education," he said " but the former chief of staff’s word carried weight.

"About six months after my appointment, the divergence of opinion arose. I was opposed to the introduction of a CEO in corps."

Why did you take over as police commissioner?

3.12pm Mr Zammit is asked whether he knows why he was summoned to take over after the previous police commissioner John Rizzo (who testified earlier this week).

"No, I was never told," he says. "I was summoned to OPM (Office of the Prime Minister). I was asked about my thoughts on the police and whether I was interested in assuming the role of commissioner. I spoke on my outlook on the corps and what I would do in the future. The prime minister accepted my proposals."

'Higher risk assessment' in Franco Debono case

3.06pm Mr Zammit says that former MP Franco Debono, was given 'fixed point' protection, meaning an officer is stationed at his home at all time. Mr Debono was given this protection in 2012, when he was an MP. He was regarded as a higher risk than Ms Caruana Galizia at the time.

"There was a higher risk assessment in his case, which was confirmed upon review. So the fixed point remained,"  Mr Zammit said.

"Is there a record of frequency of patrols?", one of the inquiry board members asks.

"The patrolling officer inputs his report. I can’t tell whether officers abide strictly by these duties."

Security services 'did not flag risk' to Caruana Galizia

2.59pm Mr Zammit says Malta Security Service did not flag any risk to the journalist. 

"Weren't the police aware of the journalist's potential risk?" he is asked.

"Daphne Caruana Galizia was a controversial person," Mr Zammit replies. "There were many hotheads especially at election time."

He describes some incidents he was involved in investigating at her home. The first was when her door was set on fire, which was at the same time that Jesuit Refugee Service also suffered an arson attack.  

You can read our story on that attack here.

'I did not reverse any order'

2.52pm The ex-police chief is pressed to explain whether he gave any order to revert protection that had been previously given to Daphne Caruana Galizia's family. 

He says he gave no order to withdraw protection but left matters as they were before.

"But we were told that protection had stopped. What have you to say about that?" he is asked.

"I did not reverse any order. But frequent patrols were only at time of elections."

Peter Paul Zammit was police commissioner from 2013 - 2015. Photo: Matthew MirabelliPeter Paul Zammit was police commissioner from 2013 - 2015. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli


Ex-police chief Peter Paul Zammit testifies

2.48pm First up is former police commissioner Peter Paul Zammit. He was appointed to the role from April 2013, shortly after Joseph Muscat's Labour came to power, and resigned a year later, in 2014.

He is asked what measures of protection there were for Daphne Caruana Galizia when he took over.

"There was a fixed point at election time and frequent patrols. I confirmed whether that was all and I left matters as they stood," he said. 


Lawrence Cutajar unlikely to appear

2.35pm We're hearing that the current police commissioner, Lawrence Cutajar, will not appear today after all. He was not summoned as a witness.

Daphne's family in court

2.24pm Daphne's parents, Michael and Rose are in court, along with two of her sisters. The family has previously testified about what their daughter endured in her life. Her parents have led many of the anti-corruption protests over the last two months.

The family are being represented in court by solicitors Therese Comodini Cachia and Andrew Borg Cardona are representing the Caruana Galizia family.

Daphne Caruana Galizia's parents hold photographs of their daughter at a recent anti-corruption protest. Photo Jonathan BorgDaphne Caruana Galizia's parents hold photographs of their daughter at a recent anti-corruption protest. Photo Jonathan Borg

Who will the inquiry hear from today?

2.19pm We're expecting to hear from two witnesses today: a former police commissioner and the man who is currently in the role.  

They are:

  • Peter Paul Zammit, who was appointed to the role shortly after the Labour Party was elected into government in 2013.
  • Michael Cassar, who resigned from the role in 2016.
  • Lawrence Cutajar, current police commissioner (Edit: We have since been told Mr Cutajar was not summoned as a witness. See 2.35pm)

They were the focus of investigations and blog posts by Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed in a car bomb in 2017.

During their tenure the previous policy of having a police officer stationed at the Caruana Galizia house to protect her, stopped.



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