Tack­ling or­gan­ised crime

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

It is al­ways a shock when in­ci­dents such as the one that took place in St Paul’s Bay last Mon­day hit the news.

Car bombs, un­for­tu­nately, have not been rare oc­ca­sions in the last years, and yet each time a per­son gets killed or maimed when a car is blown apart by an ex­plo­sive de­vice, the first thought that comes to mind is the ex­tent that some peo­ple go for vengeance. As The Malta In­de­pen­dent re­ported on Tues­day, we’ve had at least 15 cases of Mafia-style mur­ders or at­tempted mur­ders tak­ing place in Malta in the last decade. It is not a small num­ber. It is clear as crys­tal that there is some­thing be­yond other or­di­nary crime oc­cur­rences that is tak­ing place in Malta.

This is not to say that we have not had mur­ders in the past. Not at all. But they were spo­radic, sin­gle in­ci­dents that were iso­lated from each other. What has been hap­pen­ing of late and the modus operandi leads many to think that or­gan­ised crime has reached new

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lev­els. The sim­i­lar­ity in the way in­ci­dents have taken place do not nec­es­sar­ily mean that there are links be­tween them, but it surely raises sus­pi­cions that those in­ves­ti­gat­ing them need to look into.

Yet the po­lice have not been able to solve any of the re­cent string of in­ci­dents, whether the car bombs or other grue­some hap­pen­ings. And so the ques­tion arises – is Malta’s po­lice force well-trained to deal with this kind of crime? Has it sought as­sis­tance from other po­lice forces in Europe who have been deal­ing with such sit­u­a­tions for a longer pe­riod of time? Is the in­sta­bil­ity we have had in the po­lice force over the last three and a half years – with five po­lice chiefs in such a short span of time – giv­ing the corps the di­rec­tion it needs to tackle these types of crim­i­nal of­fences? Are the po­lice ded­i­cat­ing enough time and re­sources, or are they tak­ing it all in its stride, shelv­ing cases at the first op­por­tu­nity?

There is an­other thing to worry about, and this is public safety.

The lat­est in­ci­dents show that the crim­i­nals be­hind them do not give two hoots if they cause col­lat­eral dam­age so long as they at­tain their ob­jec­tive. Their in­ten­tion is to reach a tar­get, but they do not care if others fall vic­tim to their crime. So far, Malta has been “lucky” in the sense that no other peo­ple apart from the in­tended vic­tims were killed. But last Mon­day’s car bomb, which took place on a busy street, where other peo­ple, in­clud­ing tourists, were driv­ing or walk­ing mo­ments be­fore the ex­plo­sion went off, should be an eye-opener.

If, God for­bid, an in­no­cent by­stander is un­in­ten­tion­ally hurt or even killed the next time some­thing like last Mon­day’s in­ci­dent in St Paul’s Bay takes place, the col­lec­tive peace of mind would be shat­tered.

The po­lice must use all the re­sources they have – and they should be given more – to fight or­gan­ised crime. We can­not con­tinue to take such mat­ters lightly.

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