A magistrate has criticised the police for charging a man with defamation after he reported them to the Commission Against Corruption for discrimination as an officer was having an extramarital relationship with his estranged wife.

During court proceedings it emerged that although the police officer identified by Mario Farrugia twice denied the relationship, both in court and in an internal statement to the force, it was later found that he was indeed having an intimate relationship with the man’s wife.

The story goes back to April 2012 when Mr Farrugia – a 43-year-old from Gudja – was charged after reporting an inspector and a constable to the Permanent Commission Against Corruption.

In a letter ‘of last resort’, Mr Farrugia called upon the commission to investigate the officers, claiming abuse of power to persecute him.

But instead of starting an internal inquiry, the police used Mr Farrugia’s letter against him and launched charges of defamation before the commission’s investigation was complete.

In his accusations, Mr Farrugia, who was going through acrimonious separation proceedings with his wife, alleged that an inspector at the Zejtun police station was abusing his power due to his friendship with her brother, while a police constable was having an extramarital relationship with his spouse and was using his job to gain information against him and persecute him with court proceedings.

The defendant was right to have this suspicion, as it turned out be true

After hearing the case, the court, presided over by Magistrate Anthony Vella, threw out the charges filed against Mr Farrugia.

While exonerating the inspector at Zejtun police station from any abuse of power, the court found that Mr Farrugia was right to report the abuse due to the constable’s adulterous relationship.

The court said the constable admitted to the relationship after denying it twice.

“Mr Farrugia was complaining that the constable was using his job to obtain information about him and expedite matters in court while having a relationship with his wife.

“Mr Farrugia was right to have this suspicion, as it turned out be true,” the court said.

At the same time, the court said Mr Farrugia had no right to insult the officers “even though his anger against the police force is understandable”.

Commenting on the speed with which the police decided to act against Mr Farrugia’s claims, the court said they did not even wait for the Commission Against Corruption’s conclusions.

“The court feels that any other comment is superfluous in the circumstances”, it said.

Speaking to The Sunday Times of Malta, Victor Scerri, who represented Mr Farrugia, said that it was worrying that the police used Mr Farrugia’s accusations to turn the tables on him.

He said that the police should tread carefully when such accusations are made against its members in future.

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