Police charge their accuser
A 43-year-old man has been charged by police with defamation after reporting members of the force to the Permanent Commission against Corruption.
In a letter ‘of last resort’, Mario Farrugia from Gudja called on the Commission against Corruption to investigate the police, alleging that some of its members were abusing their power to persecute him.
But instead of kick-starting an investigation by the Commission on the claims, his letter ended up used by the police to interrogate him and eventually charge him with defamation against members of the force.
In a letter sent to the Commission against Corruption in January 2012, Mr Farrugia, who is undergoing acrimonious separation proceedings with his wife, alleged that an inspector at the Żejtun police station was abusing his power due to his friendship with his former wife’s brother.
He also claimed a police constable was having an extramarital relationship with his former wife and was using his job to gain information against him and persecute him.
Upon reaching the office of the Commission against Corruption, Mr Farrugia’s letter was passed onto the Police Commissioner for his comments. From there onwards, the police started investigating Mr Farrugia and eventually charged him in court for defamation in relation to members of the police force.
“My letter to the Commission against Corruption was a desperate and last resort attempt to try to stop the abuse against me by the police. Instead of digging into the claims I made, the police sent for me, interrogated me and charged me with defamation,” he said.
Mr Farrugia’s lawyer Victor Scerri is bewildered with this case.
“I have never encountered something of this sort. The accuser ended up being accused,” Dr Scerri said.
“The police didn’t even have the decency to await the conclusions of the Commission against Corruption and instead used Mr Farrugia’s claims to charge him in court.”
Mr Farrugia said he had to resort to the Commission as his reports to the Police Commissioner fell on deaf ears. “I even met the Commissioner personally on my case but nothing changed,” he said.
Contacted by The Sunday Times, the police confirmed they had instituted charges against Mr Farrugia following his letter, stressing his accusations were false.
“The police were asked to investigate and it resulted that Mario Farrugia was making false allegations against police officers to an official authority, that is the Permanent Commission against Corruption,” a police spokesman said. The Commission was informed of the results of this investigation.
However, from court proceedings so far it has emerged that the police were not asked by the Commission to investigate the claims, something which falls under its remit, but only for comments on the accusations levelled against its members.
George Gafa – secretary of the Commission against Corruption – told the court that Mr Farrugia’s letter was sent to the Police Commissioner for his comments, as per normal procedure, and not for an investigation.
On the other hand, the police superintendent responsible for Mr Farrugia’s district told the court he was given orders by his “superiors” to prosecute the Gudja resident for defamation and confirmed that Mr Farrugia’s letter to the Commission ended up in a police file accessible to the accused.
The court also heard that the police constable implicated by Mr Farrugia was, in fact, meeting her.
However, both the constable and Mr Farrugia’s former wife said they were “just friends and nothing else”.
The constable said one of his colleagues at the Żejtun police station passed on to him some information about reports made by Mr Farrugia or his wife.