Yesterday, I wrote about John Rizzo and his interview with Jon Mallia.
Apart from his untold regrets, which I will write below, Rizzo unwittingly revealed some important facts which help explain how impunity for corruption grew under his leadership of the police force.
First, Rizzo reveals the interesting fact that he discovered about the corrupt judges only when intercepting phone calls of gangsters in an unrelated investigation. Rizzo should have been asked on multiple alleged corruption cases that Labour spoke about for years on end, and which later on were revealed to be true. Even when Alfred Sant accused Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando of corruption, John Rizzo did not prosecute, despite the fact that Angelo Gafa, back then wanted to prosecute Pullicino Orlando. So what stopped Gafa then? Rizzo never actively investigated corruption cases until MaltaToday published its oil scandal story. By then times had changed from when people got their news from printed newspapers and social media was around. The publication of the story along with the alleged magnitude of illicit funds was too big to ignore.
Rizzo gives another interesting detail. Although the police did their investigations, the decision to prosecute was made exclusively by the attorney-general: the same attorney-general who was reappointed by Labour and the same attorney-general who told the police not to investigate Nexia BT and Brian Tonna. So, it was a perfect set-up for the Nationalist Party which Joseph Muscat tried to replicate. The police chief is to be a tough guy who can successfully deal with gangsters but is unable and too incompetent to prosecute white-collar crime. Yet, here’s the thing. I think Rizzo knows this and knows that this is also what made him the right man for the job under the Nationalist administration. The Nationalist administration contended themselves with a police force which fought gangsters but was totally incompetent when it came to white-collar crime, and this is why salaries and wages of the police force always remained low so as to attract the most unskilled and incompetent people. There’s more. Under Rizzo, the working conditions with the police were so bad (and still are) that many police officers were corrupt or drug dealers themselves. Well, what can I say? Everyone knew these people back then, and I was never stupid enough to have ever anything to do with them.
Apart from leaving the police force ineffective to white collar crime, Rizzo has another regret and the fact that it wasn’t even discussed, is glaring that Rizzo is ashamed of it. I wrote in my previous article that Rizzo was a big-boy tough guy and well, guess how many big-boy tough guys think about women? Not so good. Rizzo was a sexist who discriminated against women in the police corps and always held them back from progressing in their careers: effectively dumbing down the corps even further. Remarkably, Rizzo never visited his children’s school during parents’ day and it was always the mother who did that. It’s a personal detail sure, but one that tells a lot about a public person who was incredibly significant in Maltese history due to how things panned out.
And once again, this is not about getting at Rizzo. People do change for the better and I think Rizzo has changed a lot and I do have respect for him for this. However, impunity didn’t start with Joseph Muscat and there’s a history behind it.