Despite two (non-independent) inquiries which proved no hard evidence of malpractice in the case of Nicholas Azzoppardi, many Maltese people including myself, still have a lot of doubts on whether the man was murdered while in police custody or not.

Lately there was a striking development related to the case. Adrian Lia, the Police Sergeant who escorted Nicholas Azzoppardi before the latter allegedly committed suicide has admitted to stealing hefty amounts of money seized by the police from illegal gambling.

In other words, not only the whole saga of Nicholas Azzoppardi has been fishy from the start, but the person who escorted him exactly before his death is now a confirmed crook.

Many people who had doubts about this what really happened rejoiced to the news that Mr Azzoppardi’s inquiry is to be re-held, for the third time. His family are not so positive, since unless it’s performed independently from the police, it’s practically useless. I don’t blame them for their mistrust.

While many people have been sympathetic to Nicholas Azzoppardi and his family, some believe that it’s no use crying over spilled milk. Nicholas is dead and no inquiry is going to bring him back in this world.

The general reaction to this attitude is that these people are being disrespectful to the Azzoppardi family. They’re right, but there’s more.

People who share this opinion, either have vested interest in the truth not coming out, or happen to be utterly stupid and naïve. This is not just about Nicholas. This is about us.

Though in general I trust Malta’s police force, it’s an undeniable fact that there are bad apples in every institution. If the institution puts its members in a position of power, the risk of having bad apples is higher. To make matters worse, now we even have proof that the person escorting Nicholas was a rotten apple.

The police commissioner can’t be at more than one place at the same time and vouch for all his subordinates. This is why an independent enquiry is needed – he doesn’t know which apples are rotten.

Some day or another someone close to me or even myself can be a Nicholas Azzoppardi. No, it’s not far fetched. These things happen when you least expect them. There are rotten apples in every institution of power all over the world. Some are dealt with effectively, some don’t. And those who don’t (such as in police forces in most South American countries) are all reserved the same fate – the few rotten ones will manage to rot the whole lot.

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