Police under oath: the need for a full picture

Last Thursday, the media gave coverage to a Court sitting before Magistrate Nadine Lia. This sitting concerned charges being brought against inspector Elton Taliana, who is being accused of having divulged personal information about Julian Hofstra to lawyers Charles Mercieca and Gianluca Caruana Curran.

This struck me for what was reported in the media, among others, in Newsbook and Malta Today. Under oath, Assistant Commissioner Stephen Gatt declared that he had spoken to Assistant Commissioner Alexandra Mamo and Superintendent James Grech and that on 15th January, during a meeting between Gatt and Grech, Superintendent James Grech told him that he had informed an Assistant Commissioner of Police – but fails to identify which one –  that he (Grech) had been contacted on his personal mobile very often by Julian Hofstra, a Dutch inmate, serving time in a prison in the Netherlands. Gatt continued stating that Hofstra had harassed Superintendent Grech. This is a weird piece of testimony.  How can a prison inmate phone, several times, a Police officer and harass him? Gatt even stated that Hofstra had phoned Grech on his personal phone. How can an inmate in prison get the personal number of a Superintendent of Police?  Who gave Hofstra the number?

While it is true that prisoners in the Netherlands can make phone calls and keep phones, their phone calls are all monitored and registered. Therefore, Assistant Commissioner Gatt should know that all Hofstra’s calls are registered with the prison authorities in the Netherlands. Assuming that a person serving time in prison phoned a Superintendent of Police in Malta, why did the unidentified Assistant Commissioner to whom Grech had first mentioned the calls not do anything about Grech’s complaint immediately?  

Something is not quite right. Assistant Commissioner Gatt is testifying under oath and we all agree that nobody has the right to harass anyone and get away with it. But this is just one side of the story. Did Gatt contact his counterparts in the Netherlands and try to get a correct full picture as to the whys and wherefores.

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