So – one of Manuel Mallia’s cocaine-trafficker clients has been found murdered, along with his son, this morning

Published: July 19, 2013 at 12:42pm
Lawyer to the man found murdered and buried in a shallow grave this morning; a lot of what he earned from his clients obviously came from the proceeds of cocaine-trafficking, because that's where his clients got their money. Defending cocaine traffickers and earning money off them is a job that has to be done in a civilised democracy, but it doesn't follow that such a person should be made Police Minister.

Lawyer to the man found murdered and buried in a shallow grave this morning; a lot of what he earned from his clients obviously came from the proceeds of cocaine-trafficking, because that’s where his clients got their money. Defending cocaine traffickers and earning money off them is a job that has to be done in a civilised democracy, but it doesn’t follow that such a person should be made Police Minister.

I think we need no clearer illustration of why Manuel Mallia was and is a hopelessly inappropriate choice for Police and Army Minister than this morning’s news.

The police for who he is now responsible are currently busy unearthing the body of at least one of his cocaine-trafficking clients.

They will have got to that body, no doubt, through information obtained by the secret service, in the recruitment processes of which he has tried to meddle, with both he and his chief of staff sitting in on interviews.

Yes, the cocaine-trafficker Mario Camilleri (L-Imniehru) whose body was found in a shallow grave this morning along with that of his 20-year-old son who knew no better, raised in that hideous environment, was – I have to use the past tense for technical reasons – the Police Minister’s client.

The Police Minister had a rich and rewarding client base of notorious and deadly cocaine-traffickers, who include the one found dead today, Charles Muscat (Il-Pips) and Meinrad Calleja. There are others.

L-Imniehru, found dead this morning, was also the very one who bribed Chief Justice Noel Arrigo and Judge Patrick Vella – a truly fine client for the current Police and until recently Justice Minister to have had.

The remains of a third body have been found in another shallow grave near the bodies of Mario Camilleri senior and junior. The police have not given more information on that yet.

I imagine that it might well be the body of Terence Gialanze, a 24-year-old cocaine-dealer who went missing last November, with his car found abandoned, his two boats still tied up at the marina, and no movement in his bank accounts since, all indications that he is not missing so much as dead.

Terence Gialanze was treated by the media as just another missing person, a young man who ran off, because nobody – in the press at least – seemed to know that he was a cocaine-dealer. And because the police, if they knew (and why wouldn’t they know) chose not to mention the fact.

This brings the number of drug-crime-related ‘whackings’ in tiny Malta to a grand total of six since last November. Terence Gialanze was the first to ‘disappear’ and the only one whose body has not been found.

In December, two men were shot on the same day: Joseph Cutajar in Mosta, in broad daylight on the street, and Josef Grech covertly, in Bahar ic-Caghaq.

In May, Paul Degabriele was shot in plain sight in Marsa. And now, it’s L-Imniehru and his son.

The last thing we need, in this horrible, escalating scenario, is a cocaine-traffickers’ lawyer as Police Minister. It doesn’t inspire public confidence at all.

This is truly a hateful mess.

68 Comments Comment

  1. Joanne says:

    I have read on the times that the third body is Matthew Zahra who disappeared last August.

    [Daphne – No, you didn’t. You read a suggestion that it might be. There is no way a body can be identified beyond doubt almost a year after death without DNA and other testing. Even if ID documents are found on the body, in a murder they could have been placed there to mislead.]

    • john says:

      It hasn’t even been established, yet, whether the lower limb bones belong to a male or a female, let alone to Zahra.

      I hope, at least, they’ve got the species right. The way the police are clambering about the site and using Hymac type machinery to excavate for further evidence does not inspire one with much confidence.

  2. Amnesty says:

    Was l-Imniehru one of the inmates who benefited from Emanuel Mallia’s amnesty?

  3. P Shaw says:

    Somebody is consolidating his/their drug-business empire in order to have a quasi-monopoly. By any chance, does somebody feel empowered now that Manuel Mallia is the Minister?

  4. Alexander Ball says:

    They obviously paid him in cash, too.

    • Paul Bonnici says:

      He declared a very large amount of cash. One would get arrested at the airport for carrying so much cash.

  5. Bubu says:

    This is the first question I had as soon as I heard that the missing bloke was l-Imniehru – was he Mallia’s client?

    Alas, you answered my question.

  6. Jozef says:

    Alla jbierek Saviour Sub Judice Balzan, malajr qataghha.

    [Daphne – The date is wrong on that report, isn’t it? The arraignment took place last night, not Thursday night.]

    • Jozef says:

      It’s been updated, but yesterday’s was rather definite about an ‘internal feud’.

      Taf int, dawk joqtlu ‘l xulxin.

      All I know is that it’s drug war, on a national level, the last time anything like this happened was in the early eighties, when hard drugs came to the fore, grass intially replaced by processed blokka and local suppliers eliminated.

      Funny how this war started gathering momentum as it became clear there would be a change in political power. Reminds me when the Corleonesi set off their strategy to keep the political revolution on edge as parties folded during the 1992 Tangentopoli.

  7. Felix says:

    On what criteria did the prime minister choose Manuel Mallia as police and army minister?

  8. Osservatore says:

    Malta is a small community and yet the big boys in drugs seem uncontrollable, and even appear to enjoy some form of protection. Or they have been defended by well-networked lawyers, funded by drug money.

    They spend some years in jail and they’re out again, picking up where they left off. Trusted others run their drug business in the meantime.

    The courts have often been seen as being lenient with drug lords and their henchmen, forgetting that these are fundamentally bad and unscrupulous murderers and whose actions are directly and indirectly ruining so many lives.

    [Daphne – This is a misconception. Malta’s laws on drug-dealing/trafficking are among the harshest in Europe. One of the men killed this week received an 18-year prison sentence, which is pretty much what you would get for murder.]

    I was not so much surprised by the fact that Mario Camilleri was found dead as by the fact that he was running about.

    Something is very wrong with the Maltese justice system. Isn’t this a man who actually managed to bribe judges?

    This man’s power knew no end, that is until he met his end.

    His criminal activity should have attracted several life sentences.

    Forget rehabilitation in cases like this and throw away the key. His respect for the rights of others imply that society should have no respect for his.

    The drug problem seems to have been on the back-burner for way too long. Let the illegal immigrants come in their droves – they are not killing anyone (or at least not in any proportion than is greater to that with which the Maltese or other foreigners are killing each other). Yet the drug lords’ actions have ruined so many of our youths.

    Gang killings and turf wars are one of the dirty consequences of an otherwise invisible scene that hints at the scale of the drug problem. The Nationalist Party have failed miserably to tackle it and whatever they did was too little too late.

    Now that we have a Labour government, they should know that this is one area of policy where we expect them to do better then their predecessors. Mediocrity will not suffice.

    [Daphne – This is the very same Labour Party which, when faced with evidence of cocaine dealing at its Hal Safi club, moved to cover up the evidence and brush the matter aside, rather than doing the responsible thing and calling in the police.]

    This is a terrible menace to society and the government and opposition should cooperate on tackling it. They could start by singling cocaine out in the laws and making the penalties for dealing and trafficking in this particular drug a lot harsher, since it it the source of the problem here, as elsewhere.

    We just cannot afford to keep getting it so wrong.

    • Osservatore says:

      Had he received 18 years for every person whose life he ruined, then and only then I’d be happy. Traffickers get off lightly and as you mentioned, they do so in the rest of Europe. This is complacency on a European scale.

      Think of a 10-year sentence for possession of a cannabis plant intended for personal use. Possibly fair. But then think of an 18-year sentence for trafficking in cocaine or heroin intended for resale on our streets. On the basis of the previous sentence, 18 years hardly suffices.

      And anyway, why was this hardened criminal out of custody? A notorious drug trafficker and gang member who allegedly bribed judges. Our streets are not half as safe as I imagined them to be, although with two less criminals out there, I do feel better.

    • Jozef says:

      Let’s have a urine test session in parliament. Will explain a lot of things, most notably the flippancy and super egocentricity that’s taken over.

      It’s not the PN’s that’s gone soft.

      • blokka silg says:

        Brilliant comment.

        I am always amazed at how easy it seems to be for these drug lords to carry on their business, almost with impunity, in such a small and relatively confined space.

        Surely it cannot be that difficult to find the top guys – that is if there really is the will, which is apparently lacking.

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        Oh, a few phone intercepts would be enough for a conviction. That would be up to the Security Service. Which is staffed by Manuel Mallia’s chosen friends.

        Who wouldn’t push the investigation too far because a not guilty verdict would suit the lawyer just fine.

        On second thoughts, best not investigate too deeply. Just convict a few dope-growers and impose the maximum sentence instead. Once again, Malta has been saved. All hail the fuzz.

  9. jack says:

    Sorry to say this, but you should not speculate about the identity of the third body, until forensics have established the identity beyond doubt.

    Equally irresponsible is – which has attributed the identity of the body to a different person than the one you mention in this post.

    [Daphne – I can’t see how it can be considered irresponsible. These are cocaine dealers/traffickers we are talking about. I can think of several places to direct the accusation of ‘irresponsible’, and certainly not towards journalists who point out whose bodies, of those in the same business, are still missing. What is irresponsible, to my mind, is that the police – at least going by what the press was told – continued to treat Gialanze as a missing person, instead of launching a murder inquiry, given the business he was involved in and the murders that followed.]

    • jack says:

      In your own words:

      [Daphne – No, you didn’t. You read a suggestion that it might be. There is no way a body can be identified beyond doubt almost a year after death without DNA and other testing. Even if ID documents are found on the body, in a murder they could have been placed there to mislead.]

      Speculation causes unnecessary grief and distress. Let forensics put the identity of the corpse beyond doubt.

      [Daphne – Not so. The job of the press is to enquire about these things. Speculation has nothing to do with it. Two men in their early 20s, both drug-dealers, vanished without trace within weeks of each other late last year. Our job is to remind people of this. As for the grief and distress caused to relatives, well, what can I say. In most situations I would agree with you, but in this situation I most certainly don’t. These are people who made their money selling the causes of grief and distress to individuals and families, and the surviving relatives were party to it in one way or another, even if only by living off the proceeds and asking no questions.]

  10. M. says:

    According to The Times, the third body could be of Mattew Zahra, who went missing last August.

  11. La Redoute says:

    Paul Degabriele had been arrested in December in connection with the murder of Joseph Cutajar “Il-Lion”.

  12. La Redoute says:

    Joseph Cutajar had been charged with murder and with attempted murder. He had fallen out with his victims, Kevin Gatt (killed) and Stephen Zammit (not instantly killed), over a drug deal.

    • La Redoute says:

      The murdered Joseph Cutajar’s lawyer was Arthur Azzopardi, a member of Emmanuel Mallia’s law practice.

  13. La Redoute says:

    “[Josef] Grech is well known to the Police over the murder of Patricia Attard, the 55 year old woman of Hamrun who was shot dead at Ta’ Qali on February 13, 2004. Investigators believe that the man, who had severe injuries to his head, face and across his body, was beaten up in a different place and then taken to Bahar ic-Caghaq and shot.”

  14. Numerus says:

    How often do the police issue press releases when some criminals are missing ? Did the family report to the police directly ? Or did they report to the “family lawyer Mallia” who in turn ordered the police to issue the press release?

  15. The Psychologist says:

    And then, one also begins to question how and why the minister has 500,000 euro in “self-declared” cash AT HOME, which is of no concern to the Prime Minister, so he says.

    • Francis Saliba MD says:

      A defence lawyer who amassed a fortune of millions, including half a million in cash, keeping sundry criminals, including major drug traffickers, in circulation and who keeps the proceeds “at home” would either need to convert his home into a miniature Fort Knox or else have at his disposal an entire police force whose security service personnel were selected under his tutelage.

  16. Harry Purdie says:

    Wonder if he is paid in advance by these crooks. Or could be on a retainer, since most are (were) repeat offenders.

  17. melissam says:

    A drug gang war is going on. But the public need not know about it.

    It certainly doesn’t inspire public confidence. Not that anyone will really notice in this state of mediocre journalism.

  18. george grech says:

    No wonder he has the film industry within his portfolio. Apart from aeroplanes, helicopters and steamboats they might also require whales in which case he might lend himself as a prop.

  19. ND says:

    What is he wearing, and what’s with that pose? Is it for a Tista Tkun Int advert?

  20. ciccio says:

    Will Joseph Muscat “stand up to be counted” like Obama on matters like this one?

    Will Joseph Muscat “wake up and smell the coffee” about episodes like this?

    Will Joseph Muscat “stamp his feet” in protection of these cases?

  21. Socrates says:

    The macabre but not unexpected murders of father and son, together with the finding of another dead body close to the former two, necessitate serious reflection and an immediate action that the Prime Minister must take: Manuel Mallia should be removed from the current list of serving ministers due to his conflicting roles.

    The Police Minister probably knows much more about Mario Camilleri’s criminal activities than the Commissioner of Police and his colleagues do, probably even more than the Secret Service does.

    Yet he cannot tell the police what he knows about one of his former clients, because of client confidentiality rules. All he can do is watch while the police for whom he is ‘responsible’ learn on their own what he might know already.

    This choice of minister was one of the very worst Muscat made.

    • Daffid says:

      Socrates is correct. How much more does the Minister know about the criminal activities of these drug dealers who were his clients? He would have gained information during lawyer-client discussions that he is, I assume, not able to use in his current role.

      At worst, he might be in a position where, as Police Minister, he is withholding valuable information from the police should names ever be mentioned at Police or security meetings briefs.

      Or the reverse might be true, with he being privy to information obtained by the police which his (former) clients might consider useful.

      Messy, very messy indeed. Not good for Malta at all.

  22. Matt says:

    Does this mean that Manuel Mallia, Police and Army Minister, might know about, or have in his possession, information on this criminal that might come in handy in this murder investigation? Will that information be protected by lawyer-client privilege?

    • Francis Saliba MD says:

      The confidentiality privilege between a lawyer and his criminal client is inviolate and much tighter than the one between doctor and his client or between a confessor and his penitent.

      As far as I know it can only be breached if the criminal foolishly tries to practice his criminal skill against his lawyer.

  23. Joseph Borg says:

    And some of the drugs money goes to ……. through legal channels.

  24. J. Borg says:

    If I were a drug trafficker, I would likely not pay my lawyer by cheque, since I probably wouldn’t have much ‘legitimate’ money in the banks, and would be trying to offload boatloads of cash from my ill-gotten gains.

    And if my lawyer had loads of clients in the same business, he might well end up with quite a lot of such cash — basically drug money — at home.

    • Francis Saliba MD says:

      @J Borg

      If a major drug trafficker had money that needed laundering, his defence lawyer would have to be incredibly stupid to accept his cheque because of the incriminating paper-trail. And, whatever your opinion of him, Dr E Mallia is not that kind of fool.

      • J. Borg says:

        My point exactly.

        Since I am pretty sure the lawyer would require payment, this would surely be made in cash, and with loads of such clients, could mount up quite a bit…

  25. Catsrbest says:

    When I see how all this saga is shaping up, a film I once saw called ‘Pride & Glory’ keeps coming to my mind.

  26. matt says:

    What horrible events. And these are just the ones that we hear about. Criminals rule in Malta.

  27. Boy on a bike says:

    Deserving hatred and contempt.

    contemptible – abject – mean – vile

  28. Gordon says:

    Now I know what you mean about the Faberge egg collection.

  29. Gordon says:

    Mallia must have run for politics because he anticipated that business would dry up.

  30. lola says:

    Daphne,I do not think that DrMallia’s position now has anything to do with this case.His position is different from when it was then.Also the lawyer is there to defend his client no matter the crime.Being paid for services rendered is also legitimate.

    [Daphne – That’s hardly the point, is it. John Dalli took fees as a Sargas consultant BEFORE he was made European Commissioner. But…]

    • La Redoute says:

      Minister Mallia is vulnerable to threats and blackmail by his former clients, and their families, friends and rivals, and THEIR families, friends and rivals.

      Whether he’d cave in is not the point. The possibility that he might (is?) subjected to that sort of pressure is bad enough.

      • Raphael Dingli says:

        Touche (please imagine an accent on the e).

        His position as chief of all the police and the secret service is untenable. Just the perception of this conflict and his vulnerability demands that he either steps aside or be given a different portfolio.

  31. Francis Saliba MD says:

    I wonder! How would Camilleri and son have fared had they presented themselves before their defence counsel, in his later role of Minister responsible for the Police, as candidates for appointments in the Security Service.

  32. Mike says:

    Bananas anyone?

  33. Have any of the criminals (late and living) being mentioned above benefitted from the amnesty recently granted to celebrate the electoral victory of the Labour party?

  34. where are we? says:

    I wonder if Mallia feels comfortable after all this? I wonder whether the government is wise in letting this Minister carry on with his “duties” – can he really carry them out?

    If he knows a lot about the cocaine traffickers who are/were his clients, then they may well also know a lot about him.

  35. David says:

    I do not find anything strange that a minister of police or of justice was a practising criminal defence lawyer. Most ministers of justice and of the interior in Malta at least in the last 30 years were practising lawyers in civil or criminal cases. Many criminal defence lawyers are also members of parliament.

    Now to my knowledge a minister of police is not and should not be involved in police investigations and prosecution. So I see no conflict of interest. We know that criminal defence lawyers and proecutors are often appointed as judges or magistrates. Is this also wrong?

    In the Malta law courts, there have been cases heard by a judge where one of the parties was a former client of this judge. Nevertheless the judge heard and decided these cases.

    • Raphael Dingli says:

      This is the most naive thing I have read today. The proof of wrong-doing is not the only requirement. The perception of potential conflict is enough.

      [Daphne – Thank you, Raphael. I wear myself out trying to explain such basic things, and many times I just give up.]

      • Francis Saliba MD says:

        The on-going shambles in the police department, the Corradino Correction Facility, the extreme liberality in keeping guilty criminals in circulation, are all the evidence that is needed to persuade even the most blinkered that there is an insurmountable conflict of interest when a prominent very successful criminal defence lawyer is engaged to double up as a cabinet minister in charge of those departments.

  36. What? says:

    Will he blow the whistle or what?

  37. The chemist says:

    For one of these lawyers to accept a serious trafficking case, you have to pay a fee otherwise no one will take it up and you’ll be left with a court appointed lawyer which often enough, do not have the contacts which others have which will leave you with a lousy defence.

    Drug trafficking is conducted in cash so anything bought by these people is bought in cash, often left in the previous owner’s name so if caught, the courts have nothing to confiscate. This applies to luxury cars, horses and property.

  38. Wilson says:

    Well lets put it this way. The choice for minister was between two: Herrera and Mallia. Now which weevil would you choose?

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