Former Police Commissioner jailed for murder of man under interrogation is current Police Commissioner’s guest at a Christmas party at Police HQ

Published: January 3, 2017 at 10:47am

A former Commissioner of Police, Lawrence Pullicino, who received a 15-year prison sentence for the murder of a man under interrogation in his office at Police Headquarters, was a guest of the current Commissioner of Police, Lawrence Cutajar, at a Christmas party he hosted at the officers’ mess in Floriana on 30th December.

The guests also included Cutajar’s short-tenured predecessors, Michael Cassar and Peter Paul Zammit, both Muscat’s appointees to the post of Police Commissioner, who resigned after a brief duration.

Lawrence Pullicino was Commissioner of Police during the darkest years of the Malta police force, when it was operated directly by the Mintoff/Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici governments as a terror squad for the oppression of civilians and government critics.

In 1980, Pullicino asked two of his officers to hold down a man, Nardu Debono, who was under interrogation in his office, while he beat him. When Debono had been beaten into semi-consciousness and was lying on the floor of Commissioner Pullicino’s office, Pullicino kicked him repeatedly in the spleen.

He then instructed two of his officers to carry him back to his cell and lock him in without medical attention, where he died. The Commissioner of Police then had his men dispose of the body by packing it into the boot of a police car and dumping it under a bridge, where it was discovered within hours. Because Debono had last been seen alive entering the Police Headquarters in one piece, it was immediately obvious what had happened.

Because the murderer was the Police Commissioner and he was protected by the Labour government of the day, nothing was done about this crime for the next seven years. When the Nationalist Party was elected to government in 1987, Pullicino faced due process. In 1993 he was convicted for the murder of a man under interrogation. The officers who held the man down while he was beaten to death, and who disposed of the body, were given immunity from prosecution in return for turning state’s evidence and testifying against their former superior.

Pullicino was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but his early release in 2000, having had half his prison term knocked off for “good behaviour” and with amnesties, shocked many. He had served just over seven years.

Now he is an honoured guest at the Christmas party hosted by the current Commissioner of Police in the officers’ mess at the very Police Headquarters where he murdered a man.

Here you will read how the story echoes into the present.