timesofmalta.com reported (CLICK HERE)
Police Commissioner John Rizzo yesterday called for uniformity in court punishments, as he argued police were sometimes psychologically affected, even demotivated, by certain court judgments.It’s useless issuing details of what we saw or found (in the Sliema murder) because these still have to be verifiedWhile it is right to judge every case on its own merits, the inconsistency in some court judgements is too conspicuous not to disturb society, said Mr Rizzo, adding that this was creating a general outcry.
The Police Commissioner was speaking on Radio Malta during PBS programme Għandi xi Ngħid.
“Even I ask myself sometimes why one accused person got one punishment and another got something else,” he said.
“It’s demotivating, especially for police officers who would have spent a lot of time investigating the case.
“Every case has to be judged on its own merits but there is the need for a sentencing policy to introduce some uniformity.
“Sometimes I think we are not delivering the right message.
“It is good to analyse what people want. God forbid the citizens lose trust in institutions such as the police or the Law Courts. What annoys me, annoys people too.”
Mr Rizzo also criticised the long number of years people have to wait for their cases to be concluded.
“I heard of a case this week that has been pending for 16 years, 11 of which deferred for judgment.”
Mr Rizzo proudly produced statistics showing a 98.5 per cent conviction rate to disprove claims that prosecution officers were going to court unprepared.
The police also had successes in investigations on crimes committed decades ago.
The investigations into the murders of Karin Grech and Raymond Caruana were still being investigated, “as if they took place yesterday”.
The Police Commissioner, who has been a policeman for 36 years, the last 11 of which in his current position, admitted he still involves himself actively in police investigations, saying his investigative instinct was still there.
Turning to the New Year’s Day double murder in Sliema, which shocked the nation, Mr Rizzo appealed for silence and said the police should be given the space to investigate the case.
He defended the decision not to call a conference about the matter, saying that every detail the police gave at that point in time could have been detrimental to the investigation.
“Every detail could have affected the investigation,”he said. “The police have to establish the truth and what happened exactly.
“It’s useless issuing details of what we saw or found because these still have to be verified.
“We are investigating and the police will act on these developments. I do not exclude a crime conference following investigations.”
“The responsibility to establish what happened is on the police.”
Mr Rizzo admitted that the case made people curious on what had taken place and that this had fuelled speculation and rumours.
Asked whether the victims’ families should be giving comments to the media, Mr Rizzo said he personally preferred if families would remain silent and be patient, leaving the police investigate the matter.
He said the media was sometimes obstructing police investigations. “Some journalists are helpful but others are not,” he said, complaining about publishing speculative articles without verifying them.
“It’s very dangerous. It’s not only a question of ethics but it also a question of criminal responsibility in my opinion.”
Turning to working conditions for police officers, which he said were constantly being improved, Mr Rizzo made the case for a house union rather than having police officers joining larger unions.
“My sons are both police officers and will never do something which affects them negatively or impose bad conditions.
“I know what the police need. I believe the Police Association agrees with this proposal.”
- ‘Police commissioner calls for silence on Sliema murder case’ maltatoday.com.mt (andrewazzopardi.org)
- RADJU MALTA (Ghandi ‘ Nghid): Commissioner of Police, Mr John Rizzo (andrewazzopardi.org)