When the Iosif Galea European arrest warrant bungle surfaced, the home affairs minister was quick to tell parliament the police were investigating why he had been allowed to leave the country multiple times.

An inquiry was held by the Independent Police Complaints Board, which submitted its 19-page report to the police commissioner and the home affairs minister on September 1, according to the covering letter published together with the final three-and-a-half pages.

In a statement on September 16, the police said that “the conclusions will be published, as promised”.

What was eventually released was a selection of those conclusions: mainly the paragraphs absolving the police commissioner, his deputy and senior officers of any responsibility, confirming they had been unaware of the European arrest warrant against Galea.

The inquiry concluded that the German request for a European Arrest Warrant for Galea was ignored by the head of a police bureau three times.

The names of two officers indicated by the Independent Police Complaints Board have not been released.

It is understandable that the police do not release the entire report knowing that sensitive police information would have been included.

But questions do remain.

It emerges that, in 2013, the present commissioner, then an inspector, had found indications of computer abuse by Galea.

However, it was only last May that such a charge was issued against the former gaming regulator official, who was extradited to Germany, in connection with tax evasion, after having been arrested in Italy.

The alleged computer abuse will become time-barred after 10 years.

Have the police and the attorney general asked for Galea’s urgent extradition from Germany to ensure he can be prosecuted accordingly before time runs out next year?

The police commissioner needs to establish who was responsible to investigate Galea about the computer abuse allegation and why nothing happened for nine long years.

The public needs to know what kind of follow-up action is taken to ensure there is no repeat of such an embarrassing incident.

The public does not know to what extent Malta’s ports are exposed because of what appears to be an inadequate reporting system within the police force about wanted people, whether Maltese or foreign nationals.

It is unacceptable to learn that a man wanted by the police in Germany for nearly a year could freely travel out of Malta a number of times.

We need to remember we are here talking about a man who has had a colourful history for a number of years.

One hopes that the issues addressed by the inquiry board made specific conclusions to the police.

A man with a European arrest warrant over his head and even wanted by the Malta police themselves should never have been allowed to holiday overseas without any problem whatsoever.

As it happened, Galea formed part of a group that included former prime minister Joseph Muscat when he was arrested in Italy.

Also, his father is the chief of staff of a junior minister who happens to be the prime minister’s sister-in-law.

Serious questions will continue to hang over this matter unless the police assure the public that they are following through with any recommendations and acting upon them.

This is the only way forward for a police commissioner who should know that the issue of trust in the police is not settled simply because an inquiry has absolved him of any wrongdoing.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us