Former Mosta mayor charged with defaming councillor
Former Mosta mayor Paul Chetcuti Caruana was charged with defaming one of his councillors, Paul Agius, when he filed a police report claiming he was corrupt.
Police Inspector Angelo Gafa testified that last year Dr Chetcuti Caruana asked police to investigate Mr Agius for corruption over a tender for the collection of household waste.
He claimed that, for the past two years, Mr Agius had threatened to resign as a Labour candidate if tenders were not awarded to his liking. Mr Agius was a Labour councillor who resigned and stayed on as independent.
Towards the end of 2010 the adjudication board had to decide on the household waste collection tender. The board picked Winston Borg and Northern Cleaners came second for .16 points.
When the council had to decide on the matter Mr Agius – who was the counsellor responsible for road cleaning – believed that the tender should go to Northern Cleaners who had carried out the job before and who had proven themselves.
However, the majority of councillors voted in favour of allocating the tender to Mr Borg. Mr Agius resigned as a Labour councillor and remained on as an independent counsellor.
The Labour mayor then filed a police report claiming Mr Agius was corrupt and was receiving a salary from Northern Cleaners. Mr Agius denied the allegations and insisted that he wanted to award the tender to Northern Cleaners for the benefit of the locality.
Police Investigations resulted that there was no case against Mr Agius and the case was dropped.
Some time after Mr Agius filed a formal request asking police to investigate Dr Chetcuti Caruana for defamantion.
Inspector Gafa said that, during questioning, Dr Chetcuti Caruana said he did not see a distinction between corruption and perseverance referring to Mr Agius’ insistence to award the tender to Northern Cleaners.
He said he did not trust anyone but had only claimed corruption against Mr Agius. He also said he had been told, by a third person, that Mr Agius was on the pay role of Northern Cleaners but did not have evidence in hand.
Justice Minister Chris Said, who was then the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for local councils, explained that at the time the Mosta local council had ground to a stand still as the adjudication board was not being set up and tenders were not awarded.
The council had put forward a motion suggesting that the adjudication board be made of two Labour councillors, two Nationalists and an independent member. However, the mayor objected since Mr Agius was the only independent councillor.
He said he was not aware that Mr Agius ever threatened to resign if tenders were not allocated as he pleased.
Magistrate Audrey Demicoli put off the case to continue hearing evidence.
Lawyer Anglu Farrugia represented Dr Chetcuti Caruana and lawyer Arthur Azzopardi represented Mr Agius.