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OLAF chief Kessler does not testify in Zammit bribery case

OLAF chief director-general Giovanni Kessler ignores summons to testify in court by videoconference.

Daniel Mizzi
16 October 2014, 4:16pm
'We are in the dark as to what is going on', said defence lawyer Edward Gatt over Giovanni Kessler's refusal to testify in a Maltese court of law.
'We are in the dark as to what is going on', said defence lawyer Edward Gatt over Giovanni Kessler's refusal to testify in a Maltese court of law.
The defence of Silvio Zammit – the former Sliema councillor accused of bribery in the Dalligate affair – has taken umbrage at OLAF director Giovanni Kessler’s decision to ignore a summons to testify in a court of law, by videoconference.

Zammit is pleading not guilty to 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 former European Commissioner John Dalli to lift an EU retail ban on snus.

But the OLAF chief once again failed to testify – much to the disdain of the defence.

“The defence is totally in the dark on what is going on. There was an application for Kessler to testify via video conference, but once again, he will not testify,” defence lawyer Edward Gatt said, complaining of ‘unnecessary delays’.

Prosecuting inspector Jonathan Ferris argued that Kessler’s reluctance to testify as a familiar feeling for the prosecution, and explained that on Wednesday night, he had been informed that Kessler would not testify.

While acknowledging the defence’s complaints of the delays, the police inspector insisted that he had no control over what takes place in Brussels, while on his part, Magistrate Anthony Vella said that he had no control over the length of time for the case to take its course.

Court experts Martin Bajada – the only witness to testify Thursday – exhibited 548 pages of transcripts of Silvio Zammit’s interrogation.

Dr Bajada carried out transcripts of ten audio cassettes, of which one was empty, he said.

Asked by the defence whether he came across John Rizzo calling Zammit “a cesspit of sewage” [‘ja fossa tad-drenagg’], the court expert said he had not heard such a thing.

But Bajada said that there were missing recordings between November 13 and December.

Inspector Jonathan Ferris prosecuted, while Lawyers Edward Gatt and Kris Busietta represented Silvio Zammit.

Despite an OLAF report revealing that both Silvio Zammit and Gayle Kimberley – the lobbyist whom Swedish Match paid €5,000 to secure access to John Dalli – could have been accomplices in the alleged offence of bribery or trading in influence that brought down the former EU commissioner, only Silvio Zammit has so far been charged.

The case continues.

Daniel Mizzi reports from the law courts.