Right of re­ply: Army pro­mo­tions ex­er­cise

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

The Armed Forces of Malta would like to avail it­self of the right of re­ply granted un­der the Press Act in re­spect to the ar­ti­cle by Neil Camil­leri, first pub­lished on­line on the 6 Oc­to­ber at 3pm with the head­ing “2 pro­mo­tions in fort­night: AFM of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing brigadier, say ad­vance­ment not ‘ac­cel­er­ated’”.

The Armed Forces of Malta is of the opin­ion that the cap­tioned ar­ti­cle pro­vided an un­fair and mis­lead­ing por­trayal for rea­sons here­un­der. Since the case is still sub ju­dice and an ap­peal from the judge­ment de­liv­ered on 5 Oc­to­ber is still pos­si­ble, this right of re­ply shall limit it­self to ac­tual fac­tual in­ac­cu­ra­cies which can­not stand un­cor­rected.

The case has been filed against the Com­man­der of the Armed Forces of Malta and the Min­is­ter for Home Af­fairs and Na­tional Se­cu­rity who re­spec­tively are vested with the le­gal and ju­di­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the en­ti­ties in ques­tion. In view of this, any state­ment that “Four army of­fi­cers…told a court” is false since none is per­son­ally a re­spon­dent in the case.

More­over, ev­i­dence sub­mit­ted be­fore the Court so far has been lim­ited to the ques­tion as to whether the case was time­barred or not given that it was filed two and a half years af­ter the pro­mo­tions con­tested took place, that is in Septem­ber 2013.

Hence, no ev­i­dence was sub­mit­ted nor tes­ti­mony given in re­la­tion to the as­ser­tion by the plain­tiff that ac­cel­er­ated pro­mo­tions took place. For the avoid­ance of doubt, it is also noted that Brigadier (retd) Martin Xuereb and for­mer Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Manuel Mal­lia have not tes­ti­fied in the pro­ceed­ings. It is un­clear how this news­pa­per ar­rived to the con­clu­sion or as­sump­tion that “[T]hese de­tails emerged in court.”

The re­port is also in­cor­rect in stat­ing that an ap­pli­ca­tion was filed to dis­miss the case. The re­spon­dents filed a num­ber of pleas in their de­fence, amongst which the plea that the case may be time-barred was also raised. The date when the judge­ment was ac­tu­ally de­liv­ered was also wrongly in­di­cated, al­though this fact be­ing very eas­ily as­cer­tain­able had proper and dili­gent re­search been car­ried out prior to pub­li­ca­tion.

Fur­ther­more, the re­port states that the de­fen­dants claimed that the “the court did not have ju­ris­dic­tion over the mat­ter be­cause in­ter­nal AFM af­fairs did not fall un­der the Ad­min­is­tra­tive Act.” In view of the fact that no “Ad­min­is­tra­tive Act” ac­tu­ally ex­ists un­der Mal­tese Law, it is im­pos­si­ble for the re­spon­dents to have made such an ab­surd state­ment where they quote an in­ex­is­tent le­gal in­stru­ment.

In ad­di­tion, the AFM is of the opin­ion that that re­port in ques­tion was selec­tive in its quot­ing, ig­nor­ing nu­mer­ous and salient other pleas raised by the re­spon­dents. In not­ing Lt Col Andrew Mal­lia’s ar­gu­ment that ac­cord­ing to him he had se­nior­ity over those pro­moted and that the other of­fi­cers could not pos­si­bly be more qual­i­fied than him, the re­port fails to also note the re­spon­dent’s re­but­tal that (i) some of the of­fi­cers he com­plains about have ac­tu­ally been serv­ing in the AFM longer than him and that (ii) Lt Col Mal­lia is not in a po­si­tion to com­pare qual­i­fi­ca­tions and ca­pa­bil­i­ties since those pro­moted had ar­eas of ex­per­tise dif­fer­ent from his but like­wise es­sen­tial for the AFM and in any case, Lt Col Andrew Mal­lia never worked di­rectly with or had the com­mand of those who he considers less qual­i­fied or ca­pa­ble than him.

The AFM fi­nally lauds the swift pace with which this par­tic­u­lar case is pro­ceed­ing. Sim­i­lar cases con­test­ing pro­mo­tions given in the AFM, with at least one hav­ing been filed in 2007, are still sub ju­dice. Other pend­ing suits for dam­ages against the AFM date back even fur­ther, back to 1992.

The AFM would like to con­clude by stat­ing that at this stage, in view of the on­go­ing na­ture of pro­ceed­ings, it will re­frain from elab­o­rat­ing fur­ther but this re­ply is be­ing sub­mit­ted based on a rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tion that re­port­ing be pro­fes­sional, fac­tu­ally cor­rect and ac­cu­rate.

Pub­lic Af­fairs Of­fi­cer 2Lt N. Galea

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