Tony Abela denies influencing charges for fight in Labour club
A man accused of injuring a man in a fight at the Attard Labour Party club told the police the party’s deputy leader, Toni Abela, used his influence for charges over the incident to be delayed, a court heard yesterday.
Dr Abela was quick to categorically deny doing so, adding that were it true the police would have summoned him.
The allegation against Dr Abela was made by Richard Vella, 40, from Mosta in a statement to the police over the incident in which John Bonnici was allegedly attacked and injured.
In his denial, Dr Abela noted that the case had happened three years ago and he had never been called by the police or questioned about the allegations made.
He said that the police would have certainly taken action on such a serious allegation.
Dr Abela attacked Mr Vella’s credibility, saying that former soldier lived in a house named Dar Dartuni (both words taken together in Maltese meaning you make me sick). Asked whether Mr Vella would risk committing perjury, Dr Abela said that was Mr Vella’s business not his.
The case goes back to October 28, 2009 when Mr Vella, a ‘director’ at the Attard PL club had an argument with Mr Bonnici, a Labour councillor.
In his statement to the police, which was read out in court yesterday by defence lawyer Edward Gatt, Mr Vella said he became suspicious about the whole thing when he was only called to the police station seven months after the incident.
Dr Gatt noted that the police statement was made after Mr Vella had spoken to Police Commissioner John Rizzo about the case.
In the statement, Mr Vella said that, on November 3, 2009, he had asked the club committee to record what two barmen had to say about the fight. Some days later, a person who he refused to name, gave him a copy of a criminal complaint made by Mr Bonnici which, this person said, he had found in the photocopier at the local council office.
The complaint was addressed to the Birkirkara district po-lice inspector.
He said that on May 1, 2010 he went to the police station to file a report about a break-in at the club and the inspector told him: “I’m fed up of you” adding that he would be arraigned over the fight.
Mr Vella said he asked why would he be taken to court if he was the victim and the officer answered that he had orders from above. Mr Vella said in his police statement that when he asked whether the orders came from the Police Commissioner Rizzo the officer said: “Try to understand what I’m saying: orders from above.”
The following day, seven months after the incident occurred, he was asked to make a statement.
On May 4, 2010, Mr Vella said he had been informed by Dr Abela that he was being expelled from the club and so he was not allowed to go there.
On May 17, 2010, he continued, committee members spoke to Dr Abela and somebody had recorded the proceedings. Mr Vella told the police that it was at this meeting that Dr Abela admitted to applying pressure to stop or delay charges from being issued.
The case continues.