Updated 12pm with reactions

Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà has indirectly confirmed that former prime minister Joseph Muscat is being criminally investigated. 

Muscat is a suspect in a wider probe into potential corruption in the Vitals Global Healthcare hospitals deal.

He received €60,000 in suspicious "consultancy" payments from a Swiss firm that in turn both paid out and received money from key players in the Vitals deal. 

Angelo Gafà remained tight-lipped about the ongoing investigation.

Questioned about the search on Muscat’s home in January, Gafà said he does not want to speak about specific cases, “especially if they are at the investigation or prosecution stage”.

“It is a known fact that there is a magisterial inquiry [in this case]”, Gafà said during an interview with academic Andrew Azzopardi on 103 Radio.

Gafà said the police work hand-in-hand with the inquiring magistrate in such investigations.

The Vitals probe was triggered by rule-of-law NGO Repubblika in 2019, due to police inaction over government corruption. 

Gafá: ask AG about failure to arrest Pilatus Bank officials

Asked about the failure to prosecute certain suspects in the Pilatus Bank case, Gafà said it is the Attorney General’s office that calls the shots when it comes to financial crimes prosecutions.

“There’s a distinction between investigating officers and the prosecution," he said.

Gafà about the failure to prosecute Pilatus officials. Video: Youtube

“The final decision in cases that are the attorney general’s remit – and financial crimes are within that remit – is taken by the attorney general,” Gafà said. 

"The police investigate and then the decision about prosecuting is taken by the attorney general’s office.” 

Both the police and the Attorney General have faced scrutiny over alleged failures in the investigation and prosecution of top officials who were involved in the now-shuttered bank.

Repubblika has presented documented evidence in court showing how arrest warrants against certain officials in 2021 had not been acted upon.

Bank chairman and owner Ali Sadr, its operations chief Luis Rivera, operations supervisor Mehmet Tasli, director Hamidreza Ghambari and chief risk officer Antoniella Gauci all had arrest warrants issued against them in February 2021.

It has since emerged that the Attorney General’s office blocked the prosecution of at least two of these officials.

On Friday, PN justice spokesperson Karol Aquilina demanded answers about the decision not to prosecute these officials.

Writing following Gafà's interview with Azzopardi, Aquilina said that Justice Minister Jonathan Attard appeared to be complicit in the cover-up, allowing AG Victoria Buttigieg to issue instructions not to prosecute key individuals. 

Repubblika also reacted to Gafà's statements, saying it was "too late" for the police chief to pin the blame for inaction on Buttigieg. 

Gafà, Buttigieg and deputy police commissioner Alexandra Mamo "have ended up blaming each other for this obscenity," the NGO said. 

Gafá on Electrogas

On the Electrogas power station contract, Gafà said the contract had already been approved by the Auditor General in 2018, who did not find any criminal wrongdoing.

Gafà said this however does not mean companies potentially linked to Electrogas are not being probed by the police.

Gafá on the blue wall of silence

Gafà also touched upon the recent prosecution of three police officers who allegedly abducted and beat foreign nationals.

The police chief said these alleged acts are not representative of the police force.

He said the moment reports about the alleged acts were received, experienced officers were assigned to investigate the case.

“I sent a clear message. We do not tolerate these abuses. We treat them as a serious offence”.

Gafà said it was a good sign that the alleged abuse was reported by fellow police officers.

“There has been an evolution from a blue wall of silence to a blue wall of integrity”.

He said over the past two years since his appointment as police chief, the code of ethics was finally revised after 18 years.

Gafà said it will be revised once again in light of this case.

He said the fact that fellow police officers had reported the case rather than turning a blind eye showed new policies promoting integrity and good governance are working.

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