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‘Lawyer close to PN administration offered me presidential pardon’ – Silvio Zammit

Man accused of bribery in Dalligate says that former police commissioner in November 2012, lawyer close to the previous Nationalist administration offered him presidential pardon if he turned on John Dalli

danielmizzi
Daniel Mizzi
3 July 2014, 2:04pm
Silvio Zammit
Silvio Zammit
Silvio Zammit (right) was a long-time PN activist. Here he is seen in a photo from the 1990s with Lawrence Gonzi, then secretary-general of the PN.
Silvio Zammit (right) was a long-time PN activist. Here he is seen in a photo from the 1990s with Lawrence Gonzi, then secretary-general of the PN.
Silvio Zammit – the man accused of allegedly requesting €60 million to arrange a meeting between a Swedish Match lobbyist and former European Commissioner John Dalli to influence tobacco legislation – has today dropped a bombshell, claiming amongst others that Dalli was unaware of his meetings and that a lawyer close to the Nationalist Party offered him a presidential pardon in exchange for an “untrue” testimony against Dalli.

Zammit is accused of having sought a €60 million bribe from Swedish company Swedish Match and the European smokeless tobacco lobby ESTOC. He is alleged to have requested a bribe to influence European laws on the ban on smokesless tobacco snus.

Zammit presented a statement after the compilation of evidence against him was for the umpteenth time deferred after witnesses Giovanni Kesler (OLAF chief), Inge Delfosse (secretary-general of the European Smokeless Tobacco Council), and Johann Gabrielson from Swedish Match, failed to turn up for the court sitting.

In his statement, Zammit claimed that “Dalli did not have anything to do with this story” and “that Dalli was unaware of what was happening or who was going to meet him in August 2011 and January 2012” - referring to his initial contacts with ESTOC.

“In November 2012, a lawyer close to the previous Nationalist administration offered me a presidential pardon if I spoke against Dalli, but I instantly refused and told him that I would not say anything that it was untrue,” he said.

Zammit claimed that while he was in custody, former police commissioner John Rizzo told him: “If you do not want to say anything, then shoulder everything yourself.”

“For several times, the police commissioner stopped the recording and asked me how much John Dalli would have reaped from the deal. I used to tell him to switch on the recording and ask me the same questions on recording, but he refused.”

Moreover, he claimed that a year ago, he gave the police all evidence from his hard disk, but as yet this is yet to be presented in court.

“I gave them all the evidence and the proof of the truth. However, as yet this evidence has not been presented in court when it is the police’s duty to present all the evidence before the court. If this had happened, all the truth would have gotten out and criminal procedures against the people involved.”

After the case was deferred for the third time, defence lawyer Edward Gatt took umbrage after the foreign witnesses summoned to testify failed to turn up. Instead, lawyer Kenneth Grima was scheduled to turn up on behalf of Swedish Match, but Grima failed to attend after filing an application claiming he was abroad.

“All Maltese witnesses have given their testimony but the foreign witnesses have not testified yet. Despite being repeatedly requested by the court, they failed to appear in court today and now the sitting has to be adjourned again," Gatt said.

“While everyone is writing on newspapers, my client is still ongoing with his case. Gabrielson, Kassler, Delfosse are not testifying because they know that when they step foot in Malta we will slap them arrest warrant, because they breached court proceedings. If they continue doing this, the proceedings against my client will have to stop.”

Magistrate Anthony Vella presided over the court. The case has been adjourned until 10th July.

danielmizzi
Daniel Mizzi reports from the law courts.