Deputy did not report drug allegations to the police
Toni Abela did not tell the police about an alleged drug find at a Labour club, according to a second audio recording published yesterday.
In the 2010 recording, Dr Abela is heard saying he sacked the Labour club president after this person found and disposed of “white powder” but did not go to the police because “only God knows what would have happened”. (Dr Abela later clarified with The Times that it was the club barman who had been sacked after the president reported seeing someone suspicious in the kitchen.)
It also emerged yesterday that Dr Abela was called in for questioning by the Police Commissioner on Thursday night and was, for the first time, given the chance to listen to the full recording.
“The Police Commissioner informed Dr Abela that there was no case,” the Labour Party said in a press statement issued roughly at the same time the recording was uploaded to You Tube.
In a personal statement attached to the one issued officially by the PL, Dr Abela said he went to the police headquarters as soon as he was asked to do so on Thursday night.
“In this recorded discussion it was clear that I was emphatic and I was not ready to accept any suspicious activities in our centres and, as an example, I mentioned a decision I had taken in another political centre as soon as I got to know about suspicions of illegal activity. In this recording, one can clearly hear that I took this decision immediately to remove the concerned person on the basis of only a suspicion,” said Dr Abela.
Answering questions by The Times, the police confirmed they did not have enough evidence to proceed with a criminal case.
But the Nationalist Party accused Dr Abela of covering up an illegality, describing the latest recording as “shocking”.
In a statement, the PN accused the Labour deputy leader of failing to take action. “Instead of reporting the matter to the police, the Labour deputy leader closed an eye... not to damage the Labour Party.”
Dr Abela “covered up and defended someone who dirtied his hands” with drugs, the PN added, criticising the PL for justifying what was revealed by the recording.
“Toni Abela covered up an illegality and (Joseph) Muscat’s party covered up for Toni Abela to defend him. They did not give a damn that some of the drugs could have ended up in your children’s hands,” the PN said, adding that Dr Muscat was as guilty as Dr Abela.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Joseph 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.
Asked whether Dr Abela should resign, he said: “I think he took action and, based on simple suspicion, he threw the person concerned out (of the party club)… and, from what I can understand from this recording, there was no proof or evidence.”
He added that, based on what he knew, the recordings had been at the police since 2010.
“In my opinion, the Prime Minister and an MP knew about all this and chose a specific timing to make the public aware of them,” he said.
Earlier this week, the first part of the recording was published on You Tube where Dr Abela was heard saying that he told a Labour policeman to delay proceedings involving the Attard party club.
Part two of the Toni Abela recording
“We had a case involving a certain person. A club president, a responsible man, came and told me what he found. He found a man in the kitchen – he didn’t even know what was happening – who was cutting up a white block.
“Isn’t what I’m saying true? You know about this. Maybe at that time we were not so on the ball as we are today... We had spoken about it. I got the president to make a declaration.
“That very day I sacked him. I told him: ‘What do you want me to do, file a report at the police station to get you in trouble?’ We caught them in the act because even he said he did not know what they were doing over there. Because 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... But I had clear and concrete proof.”