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Update 2 | Busuttil will present witnesses to substantiate Dalligate interference

PN leader Simon Busuttil once again fails to show up in front of privileges committee while OLAF director-general Giovanni Kessler is set  to give evidence in Prime Minister’s breach of privilege complaint against Busuttil in July

jurgen
Jurgen Balzan
6 June 2014, 12:44pm
Last updated on 6 June 2014, 8:03pm
Simon Busuttil
Simon Busuttil
Giovanni Kessler will give evidence in July
Giovanni Kessler will give evidence in July
OLAF chief Giovanni Kessler will be in Malta next month to testify before the parliamentary select committee for privileges to give evidence in the complaint raised by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat against opposition leader Simon Busuttil.

The committee met again today and, for the second time in a row, Busuttil did not turn up. According to Nationalist MP Chris Said, the Opposition leader had nothing to add to what was already said in parliament. The Opposition has meanwhile informed the committee that Kessler will be giving evidence.

In a reaction to this morning’s sitting, the Office of the Prime Minister said Busuttil was failing a test of credibility. “The Opposition leader has formally declared he doesn’t want to appear before the committee after the serious, unsubstantiated allegations he made against the PM,” the OPM said.

Muscat’s office said the Prime Minister never shied away from allowing the Opposition or the Parliament to scrutinise his work. “A leader of the Opposition in a democracy has responsibilities to shoulder… Busuttil must substantiate his statements,” it said. “His refusal to testify before the committee confirms his lies cannot be substantiated.”

But Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has said that he had nothing to add from what he declared in parliament, and that he would substantiate his claims with various witnesses he will present in the privilege committee hearings. "When the Opposition presented its evidence in committee, there was constant hindrance from government members, which demanded a list and reason for each witness presented. Since February, the Opposition requested to have OLAF director Giovanni Kessler to testify in the committee, but in today's sitting there was every sort of attempt not to have him testify on 4 July."

The committee is investigating a breach of privilege complaint filed by Muscat against Busuttil, who in October accused the prime minister of interfering in the police investigation against the former EU commissioner John Dalli.

During a parliamentary debate Joseph Muscat had asked Simon Busuttil to withdraw or substantiate the allegation. Busuttil refused to withdraw the allegation and Muscat filed a breach of privilege.

Busuttil had argued that a series of political actions, mainly the appointment of Peter Paul Zammit as Police Commissioner and the reappointment of the team investigating the Dalli case, led him to deduce that there had been political interference in the case.

During today’s meeting, Said and Opposition whip David Agius informed the committee that Kessler would be the opposition’s first witness, with the next meeting scheduled for 4 July.

Neither the government nor the opposition produced any witnesses, despite government’s calls for Busuttil to give evidence.

In the previous meeting, Busuttil had refused to give evidence, with PN secretary-general Chris Said arguing that the opposition would not bring forward any witnesses before Muscat concluded his evidence. Yet, the opposition today said Busuttil would not be appearing in front of the committee.

This morning, Said explained that Busuttil did not show up because he had “nothing to add to his previous declarations in Parliament.”

In 2012, Kessler, 56, had taken centre-stage in the Dalligate affair as the chief of the EU's anti-fraud office OLAF, who had led an investigation over former EU commissioner John Dalli’s involvement in an alleged bribery scandal.

Dalli resigned on 16 October but was not given access to the OLAF investigation conducted on Silvio Zammit, a businessman accused in court of having solicited a €60 million bribe from Swedish Match to reverse an EU ban on the retail of snus.

jurgen
Jurgen Balzan joined MaltaToday in 2011, specialising in politics, foreig...