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Rizzo wanted to press charges against John Dalli

Former police commissioner who investigate Dalligate unable to explain why he proceeded with a bribery charge against Silvio Zammit without issuing the same charge against the alleged author of the bribery

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
26 September 2013, 12:00am
John Rizzo
John Rizzo


A counter-examination of the former Commissioner of Police over his investigation into the so called Dalligate affair came to an abrupt end when he was seemingly unable to explain why bribery charges against Silvio Zammit, were not issued against the "author" of the alleged bribery.

It was a taut, hour-long session during which questions from Zammit's defence counsel were met with John Rizzo's vociferous defence of the way he carried out a fresh investigation into the bribery allegations investigated first by OLAF, the EU's anti-fraud agency.

"The charge of bribery here has an accomplice, Zammit, but not the author," defence counsel Edward Gatt told Rizzo. "How did you arrive at charging Zammit without charging the author of the bribery?"

Earlier, Rizzo said that he was of the opinion that former EU commissioner John Dalli had to be charged, and that he had the Attorney General's agreement but that he could not issue the charges since Dalli was away from the island seeking medical treatment in Brussels.

"You know I'm no longer commissioner," Rizzo replied, failing to explain why Zammit was charged with bribery without issuing the same charges to the person who should have been in league with him.

Zammit's defence said it wanted to summon Commissioner of Police Peter Paul Zammit to declare in court whether the charges of bribery against Zammit still stand. "We want to know what the position of the police is vis-à-vis the alleged author of this bribery charge. Because if Dalli is not to be charged [as stated by Peter Paul Zammit in the media], it would be the Attorney General now to decide whether this charge is to be retained.

"It's interesting to see what the Attorney General's opinion is, having given Rizzo one opinoin and a different one to the new commissioner of police."

Zammit stands charged with bribery and trading in influence for allegedly soliciting a €60 million bribe from tobacco company Swedish Match in a bid to influence tobacco legislation. The case, first investigated by OLAF, to the resignation of health and consumer policy commissioner John Dalli. Zammit denies the charges.

Rizzo today told the court he believed that Dalli had to be charged, and that he stood by his conclusions.

"OLAF's conclusions were built on circumstantial evidence... having seen the telephone logs and the way they fit into the case, I believed that [the conclusion] made sense," Rizzo told the court in a lengthy recollection of the Dalligate affair and the investigation he carried out.

But he seemed at a loss in explaining why he chose not to press charges against Gayle Kimberley, the lawyer who acted as Swedish Match's lobbyist in Malta, when she had been suspected by OLAF to have been an accomplice in the bribery.

Here, Zammit's defence lawyer Edward Gatt entered into a tug of way with Rizzo, demanding to know why no charges were pressed against Kimberley. 

"With the evidence we had in hand at the time, we did not have anything addition to proceed against Kimberley.

"OLAF reached their own conclusions... I started afresh, and we found new evidence that OLAF was unaware of, such as the fact that Kimberley's lover, Iosif Galea, was actually Silvio Zammit's close friend, which is why Silvio Zammit knew from the start that OLAF had interrogated Kimberley in Portugal, and that the first thing he did was to call John Dalli," Rizzo said.

It was an animated question and answer session, with both witness and defence counsel talking over each other. "But what difference did it make that the suspects knew of the investigation, to the fact that you did not charge Kimberley?" Gatt asked. "You felt OLAF's conclusion that Kimberley should be charged, to be wrong?"

Rizzo replied: "You know that one comes down to a subjective conclusion in an investigation. OLAF made its own decision. The way we saw it, was that we were in agreement with the Attorney General to use Kimberley as a witness until further evidence emerges."

Rizzo insisted that it was his opinion [he was part of an investigative team that included assistant commissioners Joe Cachia and Michael Cassar, and police inspector Angelo Gafà] that Dalli should have been charged.

"In my humble opinion, and the evaluation of evidence is always a subjective interpretation, that is what I maintained at the time, and I still do."

Rizzo denied having instructed a Swedish Match official, Johann Gabrielsson, to publicly keep up the pretence that a second meeting between Dalli and Kimberley - a meeting during which Kimberley falsely alleged to Gabrielsson that a monetary bribe had been floated - had taken place.

He also vehemently denied suggestions that the arraignment of Zammit deliberately took place "coincidentally" a day after the government lost a vote of confidence in December 2012, or that Dalli was deliberately interrogate the same day his successor, Tonio Borg, was in Brussels for his parliamentary hearing.

"No. It was parliament and the media that was pressuring us on pressing charges. Don't even try casting a shadow on the way we proceeded," Rizzo told Gatt pointedly. "Dalli did not make himself available for questioning earlier on."
matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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who bloody cares about what Rizzo says now? He enjoyed 11 years of fame under the PN but was removed almost immediately the new Government was elected by the most massive vote in Malta's history. Naturally he is bitter against Zammit who replaced him and, spite and arrogance that so pervaded the whole PN fabric in Government had to prevail now that Zammit is Commissioner of Police, and a very loved one too.
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Stefan Cassar
Oqoghod attent Mr Dalli, In Nazzjonalisti, bhall mafia mhux se jahfru lill min kien ta ostaklu ghall klikka. Mur ahseb kieku gabu l`stess maggoranza li gab il-labour.....jixkubettjaw lill min hada kontrihom...imma il-poplu MALTI MHUX XI CUC
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Roderick Spiteri
Why now and not when he was in power at that time? He had all the chance. This is like watching on tv skinny horses being filmed in their poor state stables and some weeks after the stables were all painted and cleaned and saying that everything was in order.
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Yanika Chetcuti
I suppose camillu reached that conclusion as this report places different emphasis on certain factors differently to the emphasis placed by other media. All PN leaning media reported in the same fashion, i.e. trying to assassinate Dalli via Rizzo's claim, that he wanted to arraign Dalli. What is very strange to most, and something you bring out, is why Rizzo did NOT proceed. WHY???? Tell us Riz!
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sandro borg
@Camillu

Why would you believe that this is a "twisted" report?

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Rebecca Muscat
A pertinent question is. I you had enough proof, who stopped you from doing so? You are free to answer, but until you do, don't expect us to believe you.
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john spiteri
Il-fatt li Dalli spicca il-kap espijatorju fuq suspetti li issa nafu li hafna minnhom gew manipolati, hu bizzejjed biex wiehed jikkonkludi dak li eluf kbar ta Maltin ikkonkludew fl-ahhar elezzjoni: GonziPN u dawk li kienu madwaru humiex kredibli! Illum nafu li dak li ried Dalli fuq it-Tabakk gie mitfugh fit-tieni kexxun; u li il-lobby tat-Tabakk tghidtx kemm huma ferhanin! Ghal tghid? M'ahniex cwiec!
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john spiteri
Il-fatt li Dalli spicca il-kap espijatorju fuq suspetti li issa nafu li hafna minnhom gew manipolati, hu bizzejjed biex wiehed jikkonkludi dak li eluf kbar ta Maltin ikkonkludew fl-ahhar elezzjoni: GonziPN u dawk li kienu madwaru humiex kredibli! Illum nafu li dak li ried Dalli fuq it-Tabakk gie mitfugh fit-tieni kexxun; u li il-lobby tat-Tabakk tghidtx kemm huma ferhanin! Ghal tghid? M'ahniex cwiec!
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john spiteri
Il-fatt li Dalli spicca il-kap espijatorju fuq suspetti li issa nafu li hafna minnhom gew manipolati, hu bizzejjed biex wiehed jikkonkludi dak li eluf kbar ta Maltin ikkonkludew fl-ahhar elezzjoni: GonziPN u dawk li kienu madwaru humiex kredibli! Illum nafu li dak li ried Dalli fuq it-Tabakk gie mitfugh fit-tieni kexxun; u li il-lobby tat-Tabakk tghidtx kemm huma ferhanin! Ghal tghid? M'ahniex cwiec!
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Stuart Micallef
What a twisted report by Matthew Vella of the evidence given by the former Commsioner of Police in court yesterday! Do'nt tell that you do not have a hidden agenda. Shame on you.
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@l.Sammut Can you explain for me how these things crop up or better be in front pages.
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WHY WAS HE NOT ARRAIGNED BEFORE THE GENERAL ELECTION AND OBVIOUS CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT IN THE OFFING? Who appointed John Dalli in the first instance because whoever did was equally responsible for the final outcome and equally responsible for delaying the final result. That is what Corporate Responsibility means. Some are saying he could not be arraigned because Dalli was not in Malta at the time. You DO NOT have to be in Malta to be charged or to appear in Court. I have been involved in Court cases where people living outside Malta have been ORDERED to appear as witnesses in a Malta Court and have returned to do so. There are such things as extradition procedures in any case.
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Why not throw the whole case outside the window and while you are at it throw out the Oil Scandal and also throw out the Oil Procurement scandal. Let us all face it, these people are very well protected before hand and nothing much ever comes out of these episodes, except a lot of hype. Too much money and too much politics are involved. Now if it was one of us second class citizens they will convict us, put us in prison and throw the key away. But we are talking about high ranking officials and one politician must wash the other politician's back because tomorrow might be his/her turn in the saddle.