Responsibility for the beleaguered traffic section has been hived off to the rapid intervention unit as the fallout from the overtime racket continues.
Assistant Commissioner Anthony Cassar will no longer head the section, with responsibility shifting to another assistant commissioner, Nezren Grixti, who heads the two units.
The section’s operations are to be shifted from the police garage in Floriana to Ta’ Kandja.
A police spokesman told Times of Malta that the traffic section had been strengthened with the recruitment of an inspector and 12 officers.
Inspector Edmond Cuschieri will lead the section, the spokesman said.
Around two-thirds of the section were suspended or resigned as investigations into the racket intensified last month. While over 30 people were placed on police bail in connection with the racket, no one has been charged yet.
On Saturday, shadow minister Beppe Fenech Adami said the government should be more open with the public and police force about the ongoing investigation. The lack of information, he said, was unfair on honest members of the force.
Media reports on Friday suggested Inspector Gabriel Micallef would be taking charge of the section.
A source familiar with the situation said Mr Micallef was assigned to the section, but was relieved from the position soon after following criticism about his colourful history in the force.
He is now posted to the police garage in Floriana, where the traffic section used to operate from.
Mr Micallef was sacked in November 2017 after letting a man sentenced to prison to go to Corradino by bus instead of under police escort. He was reinstated the following year on the strength of a decision by the Public Service Commission.
In 2014, the inspector was accused of tampering with evidence in connection with a shooting involving former minister Manuel Mallia’s driver.
He was later acquitted by a police board.
Investigations into the racket began late last year. The probe has since been widened and also covers other sections and units within the police force where similar irregularities are suspected to have taken place.
It is believed that policemen within the traffic section, mainly motorcycle officers, submitted overtime sheets for hundreds of hours that they did not work, over at least three years.
Investigators are also looking into claims that the officers were using police fuel to fill up their own private vehicles.
The suspected fraudulent practices were first brought to the attention of the police in December by an anonymous letter sent to the then police commissioner. The whistleblower alleged the abuse had been happening for years.
The CID, anti-fraud and internal affairs units are jointly investigating what has been described as a “web of fraud, misappropriation and corruption” by officers.
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