Jason Azzopardi sues Owen Bonnici for libel over 'sinister' Lowenbrau allegations

Nationalist MP sues Justice Minister for libel over allegations that Azzopardi had 'promised Zaren Vassallo a compromise' over the 2009 transfer of the land of the former Lowenbrau brewery

Jason Azzopardi has filed libel proceedings against justice minister Owen Bonnici over interference allegations regarding the Lowenbrau brewery (File photo)
Jason Azzopardi has filed libel proceedings against justice minister Owen Bonnici over interference allegations regarding the Lowenbrau brewery (File photo)

Former Nationalist minister Jason Azzopardi has filed libel proceedings against Justice Minister Owen Bonnici over allegations that Azzopardi had interfered in the 2009 transfer of the land of the former Lowenbrau brewery in Qormi.

During a press conference on Saturday, Bonnici had announced that he now had “sworn information” to confirm that Azzopardi had interfered in the process of sale and ensured the land was sold to businessman and PN benefactor Nazzareno Vassallo in 2009 at 1990 values, for a mere €706,400. 

“Be my guest,” Bonnici had replied to Azzopardi’s Saturday evening announcement that he would be suing for libel.

Nazzareno Vassallo categorically denied the allegations in a statement on Sunday, although Bonnici on Twitter said that that he was standing by his words.

“It is truly strange and sinister that the words the minister is saying are found in this alleged affidavit, he made public at the same time as the Auditor General’s report over the land transfer was published and which by his own admission had not been brought to the attention of the Auditor General,” Azzopardi’s court application reads.

The comments were made by Bonnici in the wake of a damning report by the Auditor General into the 2009 land transfer which showed that Zaren Vassallo, got public land for cheap, while also highlighting gross shortcomings in the process.

The plot of land in Qormi, which today is used for a wedding hall and conference centre, measuring approximately 21,000 square metres, was originally granted Löwenbräu Ltd by the Government of Malta on 13 November 1990.

The minister had established that the allocation was to be made on a perpetual basis against the annual payment of a non-revisable ground rent of Lm 10,000 (€23,294). The contract stipulated that the land was to be used specifically for the production of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages

The NAO claimed that the €8 million site was illegally transferred to Marsovin so that they could then sell it off to Vassallo Builders.

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