Update 2 | Labour claims former PN minister implicated in Cachia Caruana assassination
Labour organ claims evidence alleges Cachia Caruana had ‘no doubt’ of ministers’ involvement in attempt on his life - Cachia Caruana denies.
16 July 2012, 12:00am
The Labour Party's e-newspaper maltastar.com has released a part-transcript of "evidence" which reportedly implicates two Nationalist ministers in the assassination attempt on Richard Cachia Caruana in 1994.
In an updated news report issued at 1:47pm, maltastar.com produced the transcript of what is alleged to be a statement from Cachia Caruana who says the attempt on his life would not have happened had it not been for former minister Lawrence Gatt and his son Etienne.
According to the quote reported, Cachia Caruana is reported by maltastar.com saying: "Ghax remember, when talking about Meinrad and the father and Lawrence Gatt - frankly, fucking hell okay, at the end of the day if it wasn't for Lawrence Gatt and his escaped son, right, nothing would have happened to me..."
Contacted by MaltaToday, Lawrence Gatt said that this allegation is a "heinous lie" and said that it was news to him as much as it was to anybody else.
Gatt categorically denied any involvemnt in the Cachia Caruana stabbing. "I swear that I never had anything to do with the case."
The former PN minister added that he will be seeking legal advice over the matter.
The reference to Gatt harks back to the former agriculture minister's resignation in 1994 when it transpired that his Mosta constituency office was being used as a meeting place for a drug trafficking ring, involving his son Etienne.
Etienne Gatt later absconded in 1995 after refusing to testify in court in connection with the investigations into the Richard Cachia Caruana attempted murder.
The then-Commissioner of Police George Grech had testified that both Etienne Gatt and Meinrad Calleja, who was accused of commissioning the assassiniation attempt, had discussed their father's resignations, "agreeing that Cachia Caruana had been the driving force behind their resignations."
The revelations on Gatt's constituency office had featured in the Ciro del Negro diary, the Italian entrepreneur's account of meetings held between Gatt, Calleja and other notorious figures such as double-murderer Charles 'Pips' Muscat.
Richard Cachia Caruana has denied ever saying that he implicated Nationalist ministers in the 1994 attempt on his life, as accusations levied against him by Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando have resurrected renewed speculation on the assassination attempt 18 years ago.
The political melee taking place inside the Nationalist Party, where Pullicino Orlando is demanding the expulsion of Cachia Caruana on grounds of "collusion" with Labour ministers, is expected to escalate tomorrow when the MP will outline his accusations to the PN executive committee.
But speculation on the commissioning of the 1994 attempt on Cachia Caruana's life, when he served former prime minister Eddie Fenech Adami as personal assistant, was rekindled of a report by Labour e-newspaper www.maltastar.com that it has 'seen the evidence' that confirm that Cachia Caruana had "no doubt" that two Nationalist ministers were implicated in the attempt on his life on 18 December, 1994.
"Anybody who followed the trial of three individuals for attempting to kill me in 1994 will know exactly who I - but more pertinently, the police - believe was involved in that attempt," Cachia Caruana told MaltaToday in a reaction.
"Any attempt to suggest otherwise now, 18 years later, is unsavoury, ill-advised and completely out of order. But it is entirely in line with the Labour Party's largely successful attempts back then to sabotage the trial of two of those individuals by undermining the credibility of main witnesses. They would have done the same with the third individual had he not confessed and admitted his guilt.
"The Labour Party's strategy then was undemocratic and contrary to the rule of law. It continues to show that it has not changed in this respect, and that it will use any means to gain its narrow, partisan end, even if this results in people getting away with murder."
Cachia Caruana also said there were "no Nationalist ministers implicated in the attempt" on his life. "No did I ever think or say that there were. To suggest that I believed this and continued to work with them is shocking and betrays poor understanding of human nature."
On Tuesday, the PN executive will be hearing Pullicino Orlando accuse Cachia Caruana of "collusion" with Labour ministers from the Alfred Sant administration.
While Pullicino Orlando has provided the names of five witnesses to testify in the PN's internal hearing of his accusations, the allegations have been specifically reinforced by statements made by Labour MPs and former ministers Karmenu Vella and Joe Mizzi.
Vella has signed an affidavit saying that Cachia Caruana wanted to disassociate himself from decisions taken by the Air Malta board of directors when he served on it; Mizzi on the other hand claims Cachia Caruana pressured him to remove the head of the Security Services, while implicating him in a botched drugs raid on a yacht where Cachia Caruana's friends were having a party. Cachia Caruana has sued Mizzi for criminal slander.
The other three witnesses are EU Commissioner John Dalli, a former foreign minister and rival for the PN leadership, the prime minister's head of communications Gordon Pisani - who has denied Pullicino Orlando's accusations - and Commissioner of Police John Rizzo.
1994 assassination attempt
The attempt on Cachia Caruana's life has been the source of great political controversy. Police investigators accused Meinrad Calleja, a convicted drug trafficker, for having commissioned the 1994 hit in retribution for the resignation of his father, Brigadier Maurice Calleja, from the AFM a year earlier over his drug conviction.
Calleja was accused of contracting a former Nationalist party henchman, Joseph Fenech 'il-Hafi', to carry out the murder. Fenech, who turned State evidence, was granted a Presidential pardon to testify against Calleja, in the process revealing that he was accompanied to Mdina with two other accomplices, Charles Attard 'iz-Zambi' and Ian Farrugia.
Attard admitted to the charges and was sentenced to imprisonment, but later recanted although he remains convicted. Farrugia, whose palm-print was found on the car that was in Mdina in the night, was acquitted. Calleja was later found not guilty of commissioning the attempt in a trail by jury.
Fenech was however identified by eyewitness Nicholas Jensen, in the trial of Ian Farrugia, as having been on the site of attempted murder.
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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