The Address | Benghazi – Libya
VALLETTA – Neville Gafà, who was described by officials from the Libyan government in Tripoli as a special envoy of the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, said he had never presented himself as such, confirming that it was “just a misunderstanding.”
In an exclusive interview with The Address today, Gafà said his visit to Tripoli last week was personal, friendly and was not official in any way. At the same time, however, he said that he had exchanged discussions about some issues because of his current position as a project manager in the Maltese Ministry of Health. Gafà refused to reveal the nature of these issues discussed with Libyan officials.
“In these meetings, we discussed several issues which are of interest to both countries, but no deals or agreements were reached for obvious reasons that they were cordial meetings.” Neville Gafà said in response to a question by The Address on why the Libyan officials described him as a Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Malta.
“They were unofficial meetings. No agendas” and “there was a misunderstanding.” said Gafà.
On November 23, Libyan newspapers reported that Gafà had fled to Tunisia by car via the Ras Adjir border crossing point between Tunisia and Libya after Libyan security services tried to arrest him for impersonating a Maltese official envoy to Libya. A local newspaper described Gafà as “a fake Maltese envoy” and that his meeting with officials of the Sarraj government was “scandal.”
About this news, Gafà told The Address “I did not travel out of Libya by car. I traveled to Tunis from Mitiga airport through a scheduled flight.” He sent The Address copies of his passport entry stamps, which he claimed to belong to the Mitiga airport Carthage airport.
However, The Mitiga Airport entry or exit stamps were not in any of these copies as Gafà said.
Gafà, who confirmed to The Address that he does not plan to visit Libya in the future, also denied news that he had received payments in exchange for the issuance of Schengen visas for the Libyan citizens. “I had been investigated by the Maltese Authorities on various allegations and no evidence of impropriety was found on my part. Following these false allegations towards me, a foreign national was summoned to court charged of fraud and extortion. I was never arraigned to court.” Gafà argued.
According to the Times of Malta newspaper, in 2016, Mr. Gafà, then a Health Ministry official, had been accused by a whistleblower of having masterminded a medical visa racket charging Libyans thousands of euros to get into Malta. He had been investigated for allegedly charging Libyans a € 2,500 monthly fee to secure medical visas, treatment and accommodation, along with an additional € 100 charge.
“Mr. Gafà, a member of the Labor Party’s top executive, was removed from his office at the Health Ministry and sent to the Foundation for Medical Services pending the outcome of the investigation. When the police found no evidence of wrongdoing, he was moved to the Office of the Prime Minister, serving in the customer care unit.” Times of Malta reported.
Despite asking Gafà about his role in the Maltese Prime Minister’s Office, The Address has not yet received any response from him as he refused to answer the question.
It is worth mentioning that a controversy has spread in Libyan social media stages about Gafà’s visit to Libya. During the visit, he met with the Vice President of the Presidential Council Ahmed Miitig, Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha and the Minister of Health, in addition to a number of Libyan officials, all of which mentioned that he was a special envoy of Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. However, the news about the visit was deleted from the websites and social media pages of each of the said ministries after speculations spread about Gafà’s identity.