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Busuttil reiterates political interference over Dalli charges, Muscat objects

Opposition leader’s riposte to Muscat’s ministerial statement accuses government of using its influence to stop police from pressing charges against John Dalli

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
30 September 2013, 12:00am
John Dalli
John Dalli


Opposition leader Simon Busuttil ruffled feathers in the House when he reiterated allegations that Commissioner of Police Peter Paul Zammit had not pressed charges of bribery against former EU commissioner John Dalli, because of political influence.

His refusal to retract his statement led to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat demanding a ruling from the Speaker, after asking Busuttil to substantiate his comments.

Busuttil set much store in playing down Muscat's bilateral meetings with foreign dignitaries in New York at the United Nations' General Assembly, asking whether his counterparts had availed themselves of public servants willing to quash criminal charges at the behest of their masters.

"Did these ministers you met tell you if in their countries, a minister can interfered with their police commissioner not to press charges against people, as in the case of John Dalli?" Busuttil charged.

"The Commissioner of Police's loyalty is not towards this country, but towards the prime minister. We have a commissioner of police who stopped, for political reasons, charges against Dalli because of his loyalty towards who appointed him. There was political interference in this case."

Former commissioner of police John Rizzo told a court last week that he had the go-ahead from Attorney General Peter Grech to press charges against John Dalli over an alleged bribe he would have asked associate Silvio Zammit to ask of the European smokeless tobacco lobby to lift an EU ban on snus tobacco.

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.

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. 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.

Dalli accused Busuttil of 'falsity' over suggestions that he had used his medical treatment in Brussels as a delaying tactic to evade arraignment.
matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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Raymond Mintoff
Has Simon forgotten that pre-1987 election EFA had hinted about knowing who the murderers of Karen Grech and Raymond Caruana were and that if elected as PM he would see that justice is done. He even dropped names or nick names should we say yet his promise never materialized. Now how's that for obstruction of justice unless it was all a lie to win votes, something that EFA never admitted to yet.
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Lennex Brincat
If Dr Busullotti does not substaniate his allegations then this renders him as CRAP.
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Romina Calleja
Well Simon, you can show the population just how honest and truthful you really are by repeating your allegations outside of parliament. Then we'll all know if you really have the goods or if you're just being the usual PN character assassin and mudslinger.
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I believe that Enough is Enough and Busuttil is getting on the nerves of the vast majority of the Maltese People with empty attacks on the Police Commissioner. Why did Simon allow the previous commissioner to avoid pressing charges when he had all the opportunity for doing so. After all Simon is supposed to be a lawyer and as a lawyer he is supposed to know the law, and as a lawyer and Deputy Leader he had all the opportunity in this capacity to press the Commissioner Rizzo to do his job, unless of course he does not know the Law, in which case who made him a Lawyer, or else he has no legs to stand on in this case. Rizzo could have submitted charges even if Dalli was recovering in Brussels, he could have pressed charges on Dalli's return to Malta. What kept him from doing so? Political interference by the Nationalist Government or Political interference by the Labour Government elect. No Busuttil (and Rizzo) are trying to create doubt in people's minds and being the good Catholics that they are, attack people who not only are giving a service to the Country but who are also clean and above reproach. This is what is so shameful and disgusting.