Football club claims policeman tried to force admission of bribery charge
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Football club claims policeman tried to force admission of bribery charge

The Marsaxlokk Football Club has filed an official letter against Police Inspector Angelo Gafa complaining about his "unethical and irresponsible" behaviour during football corruption investigations.

The club alleged the inspector mentioned individual magistrates by name in an attempt to influence the decision on whether to admit guilt by one of the two people charged with bribery.

Insp. Gafa had investigated and arraigned two people over football corruption charges and both cases had been decided upon. In July, the Board for the Investigation of Corrupt Practices began to investigate the match-fixing case involving Premier League club Marsaxlokk.

The club had on several occasions requested Insp. Gafa to appear before the investigating board.

Insp. Gafa had been called at least three times to appear before the board but never turned up, the club said in the letter, which was also sent to the Police Commissioner.

The MFA had launched an inquiry after Marsaxlokk's assistant coach Peter Hartshorne and midfielder Claude Mattocks were handed suspended jail terms and fined €500 each.

The two had pleaded guilty to offering a bribe to former Msida St Joseph goalkeeper Matthew Camilleri.

The letter, filed in the First Hall of the Civil Court, referred to Mr Hartshorne's testimony before the board where Insp. Gafa had allegedly told him to plead guilty before a particular magistrate to get a lighter sentence.

Insp. Gafa had suggested that if Mr Hartshorne pleaded guilty before Magistrate Antonio Mizzi, he would get off with a suspended sentence but risked a prison sentence if he made an admission before Magistrate Silvio Meli, the letter said.

Mentioning individual magistrates by name to threaten, influence or force a person to plead guilty was unacceptable, the club said.

This behaviour was not worthy of a member of the police force, especially an inspector. These actions undermined the judiciary by influencing a decision taken by someone who was under arrest - incorrect, illegal and abusive behaviour, the club maintained.

It also referred to the testimony of Valletta FC president Victor Sciriha who in August claimed that Insp. Gafa had gone up to Geneva to watch the UEFA championship league lots-drawing ceremony. Speaking before the MFA board, Mr Sciriha said Insp. Gafa was there with a delegation of Sliema Wanderers FC.

Mr Sciriha also said that Insp. Gafa got accreditation from the Birkirkara FC to visit the UEFA building and spent time with members of Hibernians, Valletta, Sliema and Birkirkara football clubs during his visit.

This alleged behaviour was unethical and irresponsible especially since Insp. Gafa was still investigating other corruption cases. His connection with the other clubs was not clear, the club said in the letter.

The club felt that Insp. Gafa's behaviour needed to be clarified and fully explained and held him responsible for any damages sustained by it through his alleged irresponsible and unethical behaviour.

Lawyer Ian Spiteri Bailey filed the letter.

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