UPDATED/These are the two alleged drug-dealers at the centre of the Gozo scandal

Published: March 4, 2017 at 11:50pm

In the ongoing controversy surrounding the fact that two alleged drug-dealers in Gozo were written out of a statement given to the police by another alleged drug dealer, after senior Labour politicians intervened at the request of their fathers, their identity has not been reported.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has been casting about for somebody to conduct an inquiry that will give him the result that he wants.

But I can report that the two men – both supporters of this government – are Chris ‘Bull’ Vella, from a Sannat/Munxar family known as Tal-Barri, who works as a mechanic, and Kevin Vella, from a Xewkija family known as Ta’ Vella, who operates a diner in Msida called HangOut Bar & Kitchen, and whose father owns G. V. Gozo Developments. (Note: the family nickname of Ta’ Vella was erroneously reported originally as Tal-Malla. Tal-Malla are also called Vella and are involved in construction, but they have no connection with the others.)

UPDATE: Chris ‘Bull’ Vella’s first cousin is the former Labour Party (Super One) television reporter Melissa Vella Buhagiar, who in 2013 was put on the state payroll in a position of trust as a key aide in the Office of the Prime Minister, working for the Principal Permanent Secretary/secretary to cabinet, Mario Cutajar. She was later given a permanent post at the government’s Department of Information – ‘Manager for Image Building and Projection’.

Kevin Vella’s father, Giovann Vella Ta’ Vella, is the individual involved in the construction contracts scandal with the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools and Edward Caruana, Education Minister Evarist Bartolo’s canvasser. His sister, Monika Vella, a former Labour mayor of Xewkija, was appointed a magistrate by the incoming Labour government. There is no suggestion that she was in any way involved in this case.

THE BACKGROUND TO THE CASE: In 2013, a young woman dealer was caught in Gozo with nine sachets of heroin. She gave a statement to the police in which she implicated Chris ‘Bull’ Vella (Tal-Barri) and Kevin Vella (Ta’ Vella).

At some point soon after, the police asked her to change her statement so as not to include those two names. The request allegedly came after the fathers of these two young men – Tal-Barri the Munxar mechanic, and Giovann Vella of G V Construction – pulled strings with two cabinet ministers. The ministers are, allegedly, Manuel Mallia – who was Police Minister at the time, and Gozo Minister Anton Refalo. Minister Refalo is a personal friend of the Tal-Barri mechanic and is a frequent summer guest on his boat, occasionally seen around Comino.

They are said to have been seen going in to a meeting at the Gozo Ministry at 11 o’clock at night, the attention of eyewitnesses having been drawn by the Police Minister’s conspicuous arrival, escorted by police outriders, at that time of night.

The matter is about to become the subject of an inquiry conducted by a former Labour Party candidate, John Vassallo, who was appointed by the Prime Minister after the scandal broke last Sunday.

Chris ‘Bull’ aka Tal-Barri, one of the two alleged drug-dealers

Kevin Vella aka Ta’ Vella, another of the two alleged drug-dealers

Melissa Vella Buhagiar ‘Tal-Barri’, first cousin to Chris ‘Bull’ – former Super One reporter – now ‘Manager for Image Building and Projection’ at the government’s Department of Information. Before that she was in a ‘position of trust’ as communications coordinator for the politically-appointed principal permanent secretary and cabinet secretary, Mario Cutajar.

Giovann Vella Ta’ Vella, of G V Construction: he is involved in the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools scandal with Edward Caruana, the Education Minister’s canvasser, and his son Kevin was written out of a police statement after he allegedly petitioned members of the cabinet.