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Jury still out on police reluctance to press charges against Dalli

Dalli indicated as bribe’s ‘author’ in charges against Silvio Zammit – so why did police not press charges against Dalli before change in government?

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
30 September 2013, 12:00am
Former police commissioner John Dalli.
Former police commissioner John Dalli.


The charges that police pressed against the man accused of soliciting a multimillion bribe from the European smokeless tobacco lobby had specifically stated that former European commissioner John Dalli had "requested, received or accepted" a bribe - a factor that raises questions over court testimony that John Rizzo gave this week in the compilation of evidence against Silvio Zammit.

Former commissioner of police John Rizzo told a court this week he had the go-ahead from Attorney General Peter Grech to press charges against John Dalli over the alleged bribery.



 

But the police failed to press charges against Dalli since first arraigning Zammit on 11 December 2012, with Rizzo claiming in court that the former commissioner had been holed up in Brussels seeking medical treatment during the ensuing months, when Malta was in a prolonged, three-month electoral campaign.

While Zammit's charge sheet specifically refers to Dalli as the recipient of an alleged bribe, allegedly in return for lifting an EU ban on the sale of smokeless tobacco, the jury is still out as to why Rizzo never proceeded to press charges, given his clear mandate from the Attorney General.

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil on Friday latched onto Rizzo's court testimony to claim that Dalli had availed himself of the change in government of 10 March 2013 to return to Malta, hinting that Rizzo's successor planned to cancel the charges against Dalli under political influence from the new Labour government.

In a reply yesterday, Dalli accused Busuttil of 'falsity' over suggestions that he had used his medical treatment in Brussels as a delaying tactic to evade arraignment.

"I returned on 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."

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

The Attorney General has so far not made his position public as to whether he had agreed that there was enough evidence to charge John Dalli.

When cross-examined by Zammit's defence counsel, Rizzo himself did not explain in court why he did not press charges against Gayle Kimberley - a Maltese lawyer engaged by snus producers Swedish Match to broker a meeting with John Dalli. The EU's anti-fraud unit, OLAF, suggested that Kimberley had been the accomplice in the bribery attempt.

On his part, Rizzo told the court he agreed with OLAF's conclusion that, based on the circumstantial evidence of telephone call logs between Dalli and Zammit at the same time that Zammit was soliciting the bribe from ESTOC, there was evidence to charge Dalli.

Kimberley has already denied in court having suggested to Silvio Zammit to solicit a €60 million bribe from Swedish Match, which was the original request made to the company before Zammit tried to make a similar offer to ESTOC.

Emails published by MaltaToday show that even after Kimberley was told by Swedish Match to sever contact with Zammit, her husband Matthew emailed a lobbying proposal to Zammit that was to be sent to ESTOC. It was this email that set the ball rolling for Zammit's proposal to ESTOC Secretary-General Inge Delfosse for a €10 million price to lift the ban on snus.

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 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 he was not charged, the prosecution also failed to press charges in the subsequent four months. The three-month election campaign was also unfolding 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 16 December 2012?"
matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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All shamfull,Is there no one with the guts to stop this,is the courts worth the time and cost to keep open,why don't we just go to EU and settle everything there??would cost us less if we do!!!!,IF the PN have concrete information,lets settle it,if he does not because make him pay for the bad name he is giving the courts,if the government have proof or the PN have anything to settle this ,lets settle,lets not throw mud and hide our hands,all in all we tax payers are footing the cost!!!!
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Stuart Micallef
Kummenti dizonesti u fazulli daqs kemm hu dizonest ir-rapport ghaliex intom tafu ghaliex lil Dalli ma ressquhx il-Qorti...mhux tort tal-pulizija izda ghaliex Dalli sparixxa minn Malta u mbaghad beda jibghat ic-certifikati biex juri li jinsab marid barra minn Malta. Fl-istqarrija li hareg fi tmiem il-gimgha, ta' arroganti li hu, qal li gie lura Malta jumejn qabel l-elezzjoni u allura l-pulizija setghu ressquh dak iz-zmien. Mhux ara kieku ressquh il-qroti lejlet l-elezzjoni x'kien jigri u x'kien jinghadd. U wara kollox, meta huwa dahal mill-ajruport jumejn qabel l-elezzjoni mhux bilfors li l-pulizija saru jafu bil-wasla tieghu ghaliex bil-moviment hieles u jkun ghadda mill-ajruport minghajr ebda dikjarazzjoni. Miskin irid idahhal. Sur Balzan, nispera li dan il-kumment iggibu peress li ghandek agenda mohbija favur Dalli.
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Janice Sant
Simon irid ibellahilna li l-Pulizija u l-Armata taht GonziSimonPN kienu newtrali u 'a politici'! 'Dalligate' kien suppost 'il-winning card' ta GonziPn. Minn Kastilja kienu jaohorgu l-ordnijiet, arresta, tarrestax, mexxi, stenna.... u haddiehor ikollu jobdihom ghax inkella... Imma din ta Dalli marret zmerc u kulhadd jaf il-poplu lil min emmen u lil min tefa fid-dustbin ta l-istorja. Simon mhux kredibli.
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From a layman( woman's) point of view, if John Rizzo was so convinced of his stand what took him so long to file charges against Dalli. Charges can be filed in court even if accused is not in Malta. Was he waiting for the appropriate time so as to wait for Dalli's return and make a show out of his arraignment in court, or was he still waiting for instructions. Could have been an early January arraignment with the hope of giving the PN (then in govt) that mile advantage. Can he be summoned in court again so as to explain under oath perhaps?
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albert leone
Min kien imexxi il-miN? Min kien jordna il-min? Min kien jitmexxa minn min? X'agenda mohbija kien hemm? Ta' min kienet l'id il-mohbija li kienet tmexxi kollox minn that sahansidra il-KOrp tal-Puluzija u TIDETTALU min jigi investigat, jekk ghandhu jigi investigat u META JIGI INVESTIGAT! Jigini f'mohhi il-kaz tal-Papa ta Cyrus Engerer li stennew u stennew u stennew sakhemm sabhu ic-cans biex iharkuh, jes is-Servizz Sigriet li jibghat in-nies tieghu biex ikaxkru Membru Parlamentari biex jivvotta kontra ir-rieda tieghu!
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Alfred Vanhear
Sur Rizzo. Jekk hu minnu li ridt tarresta lill John Dalli stajt hrigt International arrest warrant. Ghaliex m'ghamilitx hekk? Issa qed titkellem?
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It probably has to do like everything else in Malta, "POLITICS".(caps intended)". Look at it this way, what ever happened to the private plane trip and why the rental of a villa at the cost of $8000 a month for Mr Dalli and his daughter in the Bahamas? This man must be a saint, after all he did all this to help some African People. A private jet ride, the rental of the $8000 villa rental and all in the name of charity. Who provided the private jet and why? Who was really paying for the $8000 a month rent for the villa? According to Mr Dalli he and his daughter were doing all this charitable work pro bono (for free). Now once again I would like to find someone that could take that magnificent igloo I own in the middle of the Sahara Desert off my hands? But I forgot Mr Joe has already forgiven the man like he did with Mr F Debono and Mr Bondi, as a matter of fact he gave all three a job? Well, we asked for a change and WE are getting one big change.
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john spiteri
Mhux kulhadd jaf li Dalli ghamlu minn kollox biex ikissruh la kisirha ma Gonzi? Minn fil-Parlament u l-Midia li ghamlulek pressure sur Rizzo: ghidilna please.
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john spiteri
Mhux kulhadd jaf li Dalli ghamlu minn kollox biex ikissruh la kisirha ma Gonzi? Minn fil-Parlament u l-Midia li ghamlulek pressure sur Rizzo: ghidilna please.