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