Two pro­mo­tions in fort­night but AFM of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing bri­gadier, say ad­vance­ment not ‘ac­cel­er­ated’

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Neil Camil­leri

Four army of­fi­cers who were pro­moted to the rank of Colonel just two weeks af­ter they were pro­moted to Lieu­tenant Colonel told a court that their pro­mo­tion was “not ac­cel­er­ated.”

The four of­fi­cers, who in­clude AFM com­man­der Bri­gadier Jef­frey Curmi, had made the news af­ter they moved up two places in the chain of com­mand in the space of a few weeks a few months af­ter Labour came to power.

It also emerged in court yes­ter­day that the pro­mo­tions had not been rec­om­mended by then com­man­der Bri­gadier Martin Xuereb, but were is­sued by for­mer Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Man­wel Mal­lia, who was re­spon­si­ble for such ap­point­ments.

These de­tails emerged in a court case in­sti­tuted by Lieu­tenant Colonel An­drew Mal­lia, who claimed that the ap­point­ments of the four of­fi­cers were abu­sive and in breach of his rights.

Lt Col Mal­lia had sought re­dress from the Pres­i­dent of Malta and took the mat­ter be­fore the courts af­ter his com­plaint was dis­missed.

An ap­pli­ca­tion filed by the Home Af­fairs Min­istry and the AFM Com­man­der for the court to dis­miss the case put for­ward by Lt Col Mal­lia was turned down yes­ter­day.

The army of­fi­cer had said, in a court ap­pli­ca­tion filed in March this year that Pierre Vas­sallo, Mark Said, Jef­frey Curmi and Mark Mal­lia were pro­moted to full Colonels on 27 Septem­ber, 2013, just two weeks af­ter be­com­ing Lieu­tenant Colonels. He ar­gued that he had se­nior­ity over them – he had been a Lt Colonel for three years at that point – and the of­fi­cers could not pos­si­bly be more qual­i­fied than him.

It was clear, Lt Col Mal­lia said, that the favourable treat­ment shown to­wards the four of­fi­cers con­sti­tuted dis­crim­i­na­tion.

He asked the court to de­clare that his rights were breached and to en­sure that the sit­u­a­tion was rec­ti­fied. He also asked the court to award him dam­ages, which should be paid by the de­fen­dants.

The de­fen­dants said the court did not have ju­ris­dic­tion over the mat­ter be­cause in­ter­nal AFM af­fairs did not fall un­der the Ad­min­is­tra­tive Act.

They also ar­gued that, ac­cord­ing to the law, Lt Col Mal­lia should have filed his case not later than six months af­ter the al­leged ir­reg­u­lar­ity. The pro­mo­tions took place in Septem­ber 2013 but the court ap­pli­ca­tion was only filed in March 2016.

The de­fen­dants said the com­plainant was claim­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion with­out say­ing specif­i­cally how he was dis­crim­i­nated against. His claims, they said, were also base­less and un­founded.

They said there was no right for a pro­mo­tion and that their pro­mo­tion had been just and le­gal. They also cat­e­gor­i­cally de­nied that their pro­mo­tion was ac­cel­er­ated.

The of­fi­cers said all Lt Colonels had an equal chance of pro­mo­tion and there was no min­i­mum time one had to serve in the rank be­fore be­ing el­i­gi­ble for an­other pro­mo­tion.

The court, presided over by Mr Jus­tice Mark Chet­cuti, found that Lt Col Mal­lia had made use of his right to seek re­dress from the Pres­i­dent. His com­plaint had been re­jected and the pro­mo­tions had been con­firmed.

The case will con­tinue.

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