A top-level public official was forced out of his job after being arrested on “made-up criminal allegations” and threatened, an MP has claimed in parliament.

Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi said Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar should resign over “abuse of power” in connection with the 2013 incident.

Speaking under parliamentary privilege, Azzopardi said the official was asked by Cutajar to step down from his role at the Inland Revenue. When he refused, saying he had not done anything that merited resignation, the permanent secretary threatened him with criminal action. 

The MP said he knew the official's name but was withholding it to protect his privacy. 

According to Azzopardi, the official then asked Cutajar to make the claims in writing, but the permanent secretary refused. He was subsequently arrested on "made-up criminal allegations", the MP said. 

“On April 24, 2013, he was arrested by the fraud section on the order of then-Commissioner Peter Paul Zammit. The inspector handling the case was Angelo Gafà, who was acting on the orders by Zammit,” the MP said. 

Gafà has since been appointed police commissioner. 

While under arrest, the official was told he would be given financial compensation from Castille if he stepped down quietly and that there would be no charges brought against him, Azzopardi alleged.

“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. 

Meanwhile, following his arrest, the family of the accused sought help from Robert Abela, who at the time was a lawyer, before he became prime minister.

“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?

“What does Cutajar have on Abela? Why has Abela not called for criminal action against Zammit and Cutajar? The lack of action by Abela could only mean he thinks there is nothing wrong with a police commissioner arresting an honest citizen for hours and humiliating him in such a fascist way,” the MP said. 

Azzopardi ended his speech by calling for Cutajar to resign and accusing the Prime Minister of being nothing but a “continuation” of his predecessor Joseph Muscat.

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