Plan to entrap Fabio Psaila
The police were trying to buy time before the arrest of David Gatt in a bid to capture fugitive Fabio Psaila, who, the former is believed to have been harbouring.
PC Mario Portelli was playing a double game with Dr Gatt, who, he said, asked him to seek medical help for his client, friend and alleged gang member Mr Psaila, who was on the run and injured after taking part in a botched hold up on a jeweller in Attard earlier this month.
Taking the witness stand against the former inspector and now lawyer, PC Portelli said the day after the failed hold-up, late on Friday December 3, Dr Gatt called him and asked to meet him urgently.
PC Portelli was sick but Dr Gatt told him he would go to his house – something which indicated to the young police officer the matter was serious.
The policeman met Dr Gatt outside, in the lawyer’s car. Once inside the vehicle, he was instructed to put his mobile phone in the glove compartment. PC Portelli obliged and Dr Gatt drove away.
The constable noticed, for the first time, that Dr Gatt had two mobile phones. When he queried this, the former inspector said it was none of his business but later confirmed the second phone was a direct line to Mr Psaila.
Mr Psaila was not the only one injured in that hold-up. Darren Debono, known as It-Topo, was also shot in the leg by the son of the man targeted by the thieves, jeweller Michael Mizzi. But while Mr Debono was arrested on the spot, when he collapsed in agony from the gunshot wounds, Mr Psaila, believed to have been the accomplice, managed to flee with an injury to the hand, PC Portelli said.
PC Portelli said Dr Gatt was saddened by what had happened to Mr Debono, another alleged member of his criminal gang, adding he had commented to him he would not “see the light of day again” after this last incident.
The young constable said he never met Mr Debono but knew Mr Psaila, whom Dr Gatt allegedly called his “general”. About this acquaintance, PC Portelli said he had been pressured by Dr Gatt to meet him at a restaurant in Marsascala in 2009 and had then met him several more times.
The day after the failed Attard hold-up, PC Portelli said, Dr Gatt told him Mr Psaila needed urgent medical help and asked the policeman to fetch a doctor for him. The constable told him he did not know a doctor but knew a nurse. The former inspector told him to go ahead and contact her and the two agreed to go to Mr Psaila the day after with the nurse.
What Dr Gatt did not know at that point, however, was that his former friend and second cousin, PC Portelli, had already spilled the beans on his alleged criminal activity. According to testimony given by the constable yesterday, Dr Gatt would regularly tell him about major heists he had organised but he kept it all to himself because he feared for his life.
As soon as he finished with Dr Gatt, PC Portelli contacted his superiors to let them know Dr Gatt was harbouring the criminal. He was told to bide time so Mr Psaila could be apprehended. The following morning, the police moved on Dr Gatt and arrested him. However, Mr Psaila remains on the run.
PC Portelli said Dr Gatt had told him he planned the Attard hold-up on Mr Mizzi for years as payback for an incident which went back to the time he served as police inspector in Rabat. At the time, PC Portelli testified, Dr Gatt said he had managed to find a suitcase full of cash which Mr Mizzi had lost and from which he expected a cut. The reward never came, however, and Dr Gatt allegedly paid him back by planning a hold-up on him.