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Abela defends actions as more tapes emerge

Labour’s deputy leader for party affairs, Toni Abela, defended his decision not to inform the police about reports of drug trafficking at a Labour Party club in 2010.

He spoke to The Times after a second audio recording emerged where he is heard talking about sacking a person from a party club following reports of someone cutting up a “white block” in the kitchen.

Dr Abela, who says he abhors drugs so much that he refuses to defend alleged drug traffickers, did not report the case because he feared he would put the “honest” committee members at risk.

“I used my discretion. You may not agree with me. But I said if I file a report I would get these people in trouble,” he said, pointing out that the club president who reported the case had disposed of the evidence.

In the recording, he says: “It was him who got all the powder and threw it away. I told him you removed the evidence and only God knows what would happen if I went to the police.”

Dr Abela was on Thursday night questioned about the case by Police Commissioner John Rizzo, who was first told about the recording in October 2010.

According to Dr Abela, the Police Commissioner chose to call him in three years later because of a provision in the Criminal Code that obliges people to pass on information to the police when an investigation is underway.

“I said you have to have an investigation first, so it does not apply to me because there was no investigation,” Dr Abela says in the exclusive interview with The Times (see pages 6 and 7).

Meanwhile, the police confirmed yesterday that the case had been “thoroughly investigated” and, from the evidence gathered so far, there did not appear to be “enough grounds to proceed with any criminal action”.

The Nationalist Party yesterday accused Dr Abela of “covering up” in order not to damage to his party.

“Instead of reporting the matter to the police, the Labour deputy leader closed an eye.”

In the interview with The Times, Dr Abela says he does not feel he should resign because he had a clear conscience. However, he says he knows what he has to do if the case damages the Labour Party.

He acknowledges that Labour leader Joseph Muscat is “disappointed” about the case and says he would accept any decision he were to take.

Meanwhile, Dr Muscat defended Dr Abela. “I think the main point that emerges from this new recording is that Dr Abela, in fact, took action against a person over suspected abuse,” he said.

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