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'What's wrong with praising an official who has a criminal record?' - minister says words were 'twisted'

Police successes are the answer to its vociferous critics

There was nothing wrong in praising an official, even if he committed a criminal act, according to the Home Affairs Minister.

Michael Farrugia insisted that his statement in the wake of the resignation of assistant police commissioner Mario Tonna had been unfairly twisted to give the impression he was condoning domestic violence. 

Mr Tonna resigned on January 2 after it was reported that his partner had claimed that he had headbutted her. In a subsequent statement, the minister described Mr Tonna as a "hard-working officer who worked his way up through the ranks and worked long hours for the benefit of the police corps and the public".

The successes registered by the police in the past year should give the right answer to the vociferous critics of the corps, the Home Affairs Minister said.

He reiterated that the authorities will still pursue the report of domestic abuse filed by Mr Tonna's partner, even if she had since withdrawn it.

Still, Dr Farrugia reminded the public that there were serious cases of abuse within the corps in the past and yet certain officials were still promoted.

"My words were twisted to give the impression I was in favour off domestic violence. I doubt whether anyone in Opposition who fought against domestic violence as much as I did," he said.

He urged the public to acknowledge the successes registered by the police last year, especially in the fight against the importation of drugs.

He rejected claims that police in senior positions were selected because of their political allegiance, insisting there was a good balance.

Dr Farrugia pledged that police reforms will continue, with a fresh call for new recruits in the coming days to beef up the corps, and said a new collective agreement would be providing better incentives for the police.

'I never said that' - Farrugia

Dr Farrugia's ministry took exception to the headline given to the Times Talk interview. 

"The minister never said the words written in the headline and in the first sentence of the article," a ministerial spokeswoman said. "Both sentences are completely misleading as can be confirmed by watching the video clip." 

Note: The editor stands by the headline, which is an extrapolation of what the minister said, as can be confirmed when watching the video above. The relevant clip starts at 4.03.

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