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Dalli replies to Busuttil: ‘I did not come in stealth’

Former commissioner says PN leader’s claims that he returned to Malta on change in government and under new police commissioner are ‘either superficial or malicious’

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
28 September 2013, 12:00am
John Dalli - ‘Busuttil’s false statement is down to some superficiality or malice’
John Dalli - ‘Busuttil’s false statement is down to some superficiality or malice’


John Dalli has accused Nationalist leader Simon Busuttil of 'falsity' over suggestions that the former European commissioner may have used his medical treatment in Brussels as a delaying tactic to evade arraignment by Maltese police.

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil on Friday latched on to a court testimony by former Commissioner of Police John Rizzo, who stated that he was unable to press charges of bribery against Dalli because the he was in Brussels seeking medical treatment.

Rizzo was testifying in the compilation of evidence against Silvio Zammit, who amongst other charges, is facing that of soliciting a €10 million bribe from ESTOC, the European smokeless tobacco lobby, ostensibly in a bid to get Dalli to reverse an EU ban on the sale of snus.

Busuttil has now called for the resignation of Commissioner of Police Peter Paul Zammit, saying that his recent claims that there was no case against Dalli contradicted the conclusions of Rizzo and those of the Attorney General, Peter Grech.

Busuttil claimed Dalli had arrived to Malta only after the change in government on 10 March, and the appointment of Zammit as commissioner.

"I returned on the 6 April when Rizzo was still commissioner. He had every opportunity to take the steps he felt he should take," Dalli said in comments to MaltaToday.

"What's uncertain is whether Busuttil's false statement is down to some superficiality or malice," Dalli said of the new Nationalist Party leader.

"When my medical certificate expired, my lawyer informed the police I would be back in Malta within a few days. I did not come in stealth. When the new commissioner sent for me, on 21 May 2013, to interrogate me, Inspector Angelo Gafà was also present during the whole interview. This fact again contradicts what Busuttil said."

In court, Rizzo claimed his entire investigative team - which included assistant commissioner Michael Cassar [now head of the Security Service] and Gafà - were in agreement that Dalli should be charged, and that the Attorney General also agreed on issuing the charges.

While Silvio Zammit was arraigned in court the day after the Nationalist government lost a budgetary vote that sent the country to early elections, in December 2012, Gafà had testified during the compilation of evidence that Dalli was expected to be charged. No crime was ever specified, and although Dalli's health condition was indicated as the reason why charges were not pressed, the prosecution failed to press charges in the subsequent four months. A three-month election campaign was also going on at the time.

In court this week, Rizzo denied having been put under pressure by members of the Nationalist government to issue charges against Silvio Zammit or John Dalli. But the former commissioner mentioned "pressure from MPs and the media" on the police to issue charges on the so called Dalligate affair.

"This issue needs explaining," Dalli said. "As far as I know, parliament never discussed the case, having not met between 15 December 2012 and 6 April 2013. How was parliament exerting pressure on Rizzo? Does this sworn evidence establish political pressure on the police, as was reported in the local media as far back as the 16th December 2012?"

John Dalli resigned on 16 October 2012, after a report by the EU's anti-fraud office OLAF suggested he was aware of Silvio Zammit's attempt to demand a bribe from ESTOC and Swedish Match for the repeal of the EU ban on snus. The OLAF report was subsequently passed on to the Maltese Attorney General, and a police investigation was opened. Although OLAF suggested that Swedish Match lobbyist Gayle Kimberley, a Maltese lawyer, was an accomplice to the alleged bribe, the police did not press charges against her, and instead arraigned Zammit on charges of bribery and trading in influence. Zammit has denied the charges.
matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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So... let me see if I understand correctly: "... former Commissioner of Police ... stated that he was unable to press charges ... against Dalli because the he was in Brussels seeking medical treatment..." Can someone be haunted down (charged and even found guilty and sentenced) for even imaginary crimes when they are away from the country in a bid to keep them away with threats of arrest and imprisonment? A suivre...
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kif wara l-hafna bla bla bla ta Xmun dan bhal dejjem rega waqa fil muta? Briffy u Anton Vella mhux ahjar taghmlu bhal Xmun u taghlqu halqhom sakemm taraw kif se tizviluppa l-affari. Jiena ghandi l-fehmet tieghi imma ma hux zmien li wiehed isemmihom fil-publikku ma rridx forsi jigrilio bhal Xmun naqa an-nej u l-misjur
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Mario Vella
John keep on doing your sterling work for ALL the Maltese and do not pay heed to Simon (Not Me) Busuttil and his cronies, they heve still not recovered from the crash landing of last March.Their backsides are still sore and will stay sore or even get more sorer as the months roll by.
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Karl Cremona
Dalli did not return in stealth but he returned when his patron was safely installed in Castille and 2-3 days before Commissioner Rizzo was removed to make way for hand-picked Peter Paul Zammit.
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Isabella Camilleri
Maltesejustice. What confusion reigns in your mind, unless you're just parroting somebody else's words. Obviously Rizzo is not particularly grateful for being removed from CofP but, to say that his appointment was political is the height of delusion. Everybody knows Rizzo's colour, but he kept his feelings to himself as required of a man in his position, and he carried out his duties in an exemplary manner.
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THOMAS BORG
Simon first resign then apologize.
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When is this Dalligate case going to stop. As we all know Mr Joe took Mr Dalli under his wings, like he did with Franco Debono, Lou Bondi etc and there is very little anyone can do, well not as long as Mr Joe is in charge. This sort of thing has happened in the past with both parties and as long as there is Maltese Politics and politicians it will happen again and again. Politics and politicians have a funny way of returning favours. So Mr B grin and bear it until it is your turn to play these same kind of games at the citizen's expense.
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.... but you went to Bahamas in stealth - you declared the trip AFTER the fact - by accident!
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I believe that John Dalli was framed by members of the PN Klikka and consequently I believe that this recent attack, started by ex Police Commissioner Rizzo, is intended to produce a two-pronged attack - one against Dalli himself but even more so against the present Police Commissioner for whom ex-Commissioner Rizzo could also bear a grudge for replacing him. It was published that Rizzo never wanted to resign from Commissioner despite the fact that his appointment was political. It is also clear that the Police are much more happy now than under the reign of Rizzo. The PN always use two-pronged attacks one apparent and one even more devious. Just watch their strategy and one can see this truth. This also confirms Dalli's statement.