To continue adding to the demoralising state of affairs concerning police personnel’s welfare and morale as stemmed from their working conditions, there now is a great amount of anger and angst from their end after the state’s Attorney General (AG), Dr Victoria Buttigieg, decided to reach a secret agreement with Darren Debono for him to admit his involvement in the heist attempt on the HSBC branch in Ħal Qormi some twelve years ago and thus get sentenced to a ten-year imprisonment term
Deemed far and wide as a scandalous manoeuvre by the AG, the police personnel are incensed at the fact that this agreement was reached behind everyone’s backs and that the Government is being perceived as greatly protecting criminals instead of law-enforcement personnel.
The Malta Police Union (MPU) issued a statement last week condemning this action by the AG and went as far as to invite the AG to be present during a firefight shootout situation like that of twelve years ago so that she could experience the difficulties and hardships police personnel have to face in the conduct of the daily duties.
From the police personnel’s standpoint, they fail to comprehend why the AG decided not to favour or consider the interests of the Police and instead decided to bow to Government pressure in dropping the charges against Darren ‘it-Topo‘Debono.
The questions beckon as to what are the intents and motivations to have the same Darren Debono now stand as a protagonist in discrediting another coaccused criminal, Vincent ‘il-Koħħu‘ Muscat, who is also implicated in the attempted bank heist.
Besides this, it is being thought that one main purpose behind such a move by the AG could well be that of not having mentioned publically the names of particular politicians who could have been involved in the bank heist twelve years ago.
Police personnel lament that this twist of the plot of things is yet another indicator of how several of the country’s institutions are not functioning as they should and to their full capacity or potential. Instead, they are going about their business merely as appeasing puppets of the powers that be at the Prime Minister’s office, for which Dr Robert Abela himself has to answer for the disastrous and most dangerous state of affairs.
All is deemed dangerous as the police personnel perceive that all the police work performed is being undermined, despite their risking their lives in the performance of their duties. Indeed, many still recall how in November 2001, three armed bank robbers had shot dead Police Constable Roger Debattista at the Qormi brank of Bank of Valletta, leaving him spread-eagled out in a pool of blood.
And that is not forgetting, closer to our day, how in May 2018 traffic police Sergeant Simon Schembri was dragged behind a young perpetrator’s vehicle while trying to escape a traffic check stop, leaving the Schembri struggling for his own life in hospital and then afterwards remaining permanently 60% disabled after he lost his right arm.
With this shocking latest action by the AG, Government is coming across as protecting the criminals’ interest before anything else, in a country where the rule of law ought to be prevalent. Undoubtedly, an explanation of how such a decision was reached is due to the country’s citizens.
Police personnel feel backstabbed by the AG’s decision, especially when considering the volume of fire exchanged between the bank heist’s criminals and the police personnel on the crime scene. And in this particular case, all seem to have ignored also that one police constable was severely wounded in the firefight and remains suffering the consequences of the gunshot wounds received that day.
Had matters followed their normal course of justice, the accused could have been looking at a life sentence behind bars or at least a forty-year sentence. This action by the AG has reduced that to a plain and simple 10-year sentence. Curiously enough, police personnel were gobsmacked, incredulous, aghast and failed to understand the AG’s dropping of charges for attempted homicide on the police personnel – who responded to the attempted bank heist – which only came about on the eve of Vincent Muscat’s trial for that robbery attempt.
The associated political rhetoric is again fueled with questions if all this has the sole purpose of avoiding the public mention of past or present politicians who may have been somehow involved in the bank heist in some role or other, or simply to dump all the culpability onto Vincent Muscat. The fact remains still that the AG’s decision is simply non-sensical in the eyes of the disgruntled police personnel, who are broadly interpreting this as some attempt for some quarters to gain a political advantage or to protect some key political figure.
Strangely enough, the Commissioner of Police has remained conspicuously silent and absent on the whole matter, which makes his subordinates question his zero intervention on all, rendering him an accomplice of sorts in the failure of protecting members on the Force.