Former police superintendent Patrick Spiteri has been cleared of all charges against him.
He was accused of accepting bribes as protection money – against a promise not to take criminal action against people committing a crime. He was also accused of assisting people to commit a crime, among other things. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Former Police Commissioner John Rizzo testified and said that he had received information that the accused was involved in bribery regarding illegal betting, taking protection money in order for the police not to do its job. Former Deputy Commissioner Joe Cachia was involved in the investigation, and called for the accused in the course of their investigation, and in the interrogation admitted that this is true and mentioned that some people used to organise illegal betting and from them he used to receive around LM 100 a month, the former Commissioner had said. He also said that the payments used to be made through a person from Marsaxlokk who used to post them for him at his home and call him or gave them to him at his place of work.
Cachia, the former Deputy Commissioner, confirmed that during the interrogation, the accused admitted that he used to receive around LM 100 a month for the six years prior.
However, on the accused’s statement to the police and his interrogation, the court noted that since Spiteri was not assisted by a lawyer during interrogation nor was he given the opportunity to call a lawyer, his statement to the police as well as police officer testimony on his statement are inadmissible as evidence.
A certain Gejtu Zerafa also testified. He said he knew the accused for a number of years. He said that it was him who introduced the accused to a certain Nardu, Leli and Karmenu and was present for every meeting between them, where they asked for the accused’s help so that they would know when they were to be searched by the police. He said that after the meeting he agreed with the accused how much each one of them would pay to the accused, and that it was he who told them how much they need to pay. Zerafa said that it was he (Zerafa) who would pick up the cash and pass them on to the accused. Payment, he said, used to take place each month and that he would pass on the LM 100 to the accused and kept nothing for himself.
Leonard sive Nardu Cachia testified and said that he saw and spoke to the accused once only and spoke to him about a citation that he had received about some boxes he had outside of his store. He said that Gejtu had taken him to speak to him at the depot and that Gejtu did not go into the room while he spoke to the accused. He held that in that meeting, he and the accused only spoke about the citation. He said that Gejtu had urged him to go and speak to the accused and that he had not asked Gejtu to do so. He also said that it was Gejtu who told him if he wants to pay so that the police will not go to him over illegal gambling. He said that he used to pay Gejtu and did not know if the cash used to be taken to the accused.
The court, in its decree noted that it did not result that Spiteri demanded payment from the people who were mentioned, but that it was another person, Gejtu Zerafa, who demanded payment from them. The men, the court said, testified that they used to pass on the money to a certain Gejtu Zerafa and did not know if Gejtu passed it on to Spiteri or not. As such, the court said that the element of extortion as contemplated by the law Is not present, and the accused could not be found guilty in this regard.
With regard to Gejtu Zerafa’s testimony, the court said that it did not find it to be credible. In addition, when Zerafa was moved to be cross-examined, he did not submit himself to questioning as proceedings against him were taken. The court said given that the defence did not have the opportunity to cross examine him, declared Zerafa’s testimony as inadmissible.
The court found the accused not guilty on all charges.
Lawyer Joe Giglio appeared for Spiteri.