In an uncommon twist of events, a lot of Malta’s traffic police were arrested for suspected breach of their ethics on Tuesday. It was a large scale arrest that claimed more than half of their population. So much was the effect of the arrest that there was a need for officers to come up with emergency plans on how to make up for the shortage in their numbers.
In a police unit of roughly 50 police officers, about 30 officers are said to have been taken in for interrogation by the Economic Crimes Unit over suspected acts of fraud pertaining to overtime and payments since the past three years. They are being accused of filing for several hours of overtime that they did not carry out.
Apart from the issue of fraud, a couple of them are also accused of mismanagement and misappropriation of government resources like fuel which some were diverting for private use.
To make up for the shortage in personnel, police sources revealed that former traffic police officers who are currently serving in different units of the force have been asked to resume at their former post. However, motorists observed a very noticeable decline in the number of traffic police on the roads.
The Prime Minister, Robert Abela said that the fact that the police was tackling corruption in their own force is a thing of joy. It was an indication of a functioning police force, he observed. And he went further to state that if the investigation could lead to the institution of legal action against defaulters or disciplinary measures being taken to serve as a deterrence then it would be a giant stride in the right direction.
Malta – the smallest nation in the European Union – has been bedevilled in recent years by what many see as the geometric rise of corruption, nepotism, financial and economic crimes amongst the elites in business and politics.
The current prime minister was sworn in in January of this year after the resignation of his predecessor over the manner in which he handled investigations into the death of renowned journalist Daphne Caruana Galicia. Galicia was an anti-corruption journalist whose professional and investigative reporting is believed to have been seen as a threat to the corrupt political elites.