Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Times: Cyrus Engerer case: Commissioner insists police acted correctly - Minister orders inquiry

Cyrus Engerer asked for his case to be concluded quickly - Court proceedings to go ahead
Tuesday, July 26, 2011, 16:30

[Click here to watch the video of the Police Commissioner explaining the case.]

The Home Affairs Ministry has appointed Judge Albert Manche to chair an inquiry to establish whether the police had acted correctly in cases related to Sliema deputy mayor Cyrus Engerer and his father Chris.

The inquiry was requested by Police Commissioner John Rizzo earlier today.
In a letter to Judge Manche, minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici said the board should establish whether there had been any negligence, non-observance of procedures, abuse of authority by officials of the police force or others involved in both cases, or external pressure.

The board should go into every ancillary and relevant aspect and make recommendations in line with its conclusions.

Earlier, Mr Rizzo insisted that the police had acted normally with regard to cases involving Cyrus Engerer and his father Chris and investigations were in no way motivated by political considerations.

There was a storm of protest during the day after The Times revealed that Cyrus Engerer, who crossed from the PN to the PL a few days ago, is to be taken to court to face charges of keeping and/or circulating pornography and computer misuse. He will also be charged with vilifying Marvic Camilleri, a former employee of the Nationalist Party and a former member of the PN youth movement (MŻPN).

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Rizzo said the police did not act in the interest of any political party.

He said the police received information related to drugs on July 6 and subsequently carried out a search on Chris Engerer, who was at the time smoking a joint, and found him carrying 5gms of the drug, which is enough to make 10 joints.

The police also searched his house on June 21 and the beach club he managed. At his house, they found a cannabis crusher and smoking paper.

At that time Mr Engerer claimed the search was motivated by Cyrus's defection to the PL.

Mr Engerer was arrested, interviewed and released, as was normal procedure. The case is continuing.

Mr Rizzo said it was an insult to the police and it hurt him personally when people claimed that the police were politically motivated. They had acted only on the basis of information received about drug abuse, Mr Rizzo said. This was information which they simply could not ignore.

Mr Rizzo said he did not think that the informant was politically motivated. It was more likely that it was related to the drug business.

He said that while Chris Engerer was already known to the police with regards to drug investigations, Cyrus Engerer had nothing to do with the case involving his father.


On Cyrus Engerer, Mr Rizzo said he only learnt of the case and the investigations yesterday. He said that on January 15, 2010 a report had been made by Marvic Camilleri to the police cyber crime unit alleging that someone was circulating pictures of him in sexual acts with other persons. It was alleged that this pictures were being accessed from his computer and e-mailed by Cyrus Engerer.

The police launched an investigation. This involved a lot of work and results were achieved by the cyber crime unit.

But because of a number of factors, including that Mr Engerer was abroad for quite a long time and that the police were involved in other investigations, the police could not interview him before June 23.

On July 9, Mr Engerer himself asked for investigations to be concluded as quickly as possible. The police inspector was also told by Mr Engerer's lawyers to take the case to court as soon as possible.

The inspector consulted his superiors and yesterday charges were filed in court.
Mr Rizzo said Inspector Grech was insisting that he never passed a copy of the charge sheet to any Times journalist. Indeed, once the charge sheet was filed in court, it was public information. Therefore he could not understand how the police were accused of leaking information.

Mr Rizzo said he would request the government to conduct an inquiry to establish whether the police had acted correctly in these cases.

The Commissioner said that the police would continue the court proceedings ex-officio, despite reports - which had not been made to the police yet - that Mr Camilleri wants the charges to be dropped.

Mr Rizzo said that while there were coincidences between the police investigations and other events, it would be a very sad day if the police were deviated from their investigations into allegations of crime. God forbid that investigators would consider anything other than the cases before them, he said.


Asked whether he had received a phone call from Edgar Galea Curmi (from the secretariat of the Prime Minister) Mr Rizzo said he could confirm the phone call was made on July 21 to enquire about the Chris Engerer case, but he did not have details at the time. Cyrus was near Mr Galea Curmi when the phone call was being made.
Mr Galea Curmi told him that Mr Engerer's lawyer was claiming that the investigation was motivated by the fact that his son had moved to the PL. Mr Rizzo told Mr Galea Curmi this was not the case and Mr Galea Curmi asked him to explain this to his lawyer.

But Mr Rizzo said he did not as he felt he did not owe Mr Engerer's lawyer any investigation.

Mr Rizzo said he only learnt of the Cyrus Engerer case yesterday, and received no phone calls about it.

The Home Affairs Ministry only asked if there was an investigation involving Cyrus Engerer through an SMS but there was no political involvement in the investigation.
Mr Rizzo said he gave his best to the police corps - even to the detriment of his health - and he was personally insulted whenever anybody imputed that he was led or directed by Castille or by anyone else. He never was, and would not tolerate anyone being so directed, Mr Rizzo stressed.

"We do not choose the dates when we conduct our investigations. We are not happy about the coincidences, but we have no control over them," Mr Rizzo said, adding that he was considering libel action against MaltaToday.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Prime Minister strongly denied a claim that it had leaked any information about the charges against Cyrus Engerer to the media.
It said that such a claim, made on MaltaToday was "a blatant lie" and "completely unfounded."

The OPM said it was not even in possession of such information.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

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