Pope has every right to investigate Knights of Malta

Pope Francis has every right to investigate the termination of Albrecht von Boeselager

Pope Francis grants an audience to Fra’ Matthew Festing, the 79th prince and grand master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Pope Francis grants an audience to Fra’ Matthew Festing, the 79th prince and grand master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta

Having relatives in Malta, I read the article in MaltaToday ‘Malta’s Knights tell Pope Francis to butt out of their business’ (28 December, 2016). I am a member of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gerard, which is the relief arm of the Order of Malta.

It has always been my belief that the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta has always been created as one of the oldest “Papal Orders” in existence since circa the year A.D. 1099. Its founder was literally named “Blessed Gerard”.

The Knights of Malta and the Knights Templar were crucial in helping defend Christian pilgrims en route to The Holy Land. Today, the Order of Malta continues as a charitable entity, operating clinics and hospitals along with many other laudable charities and employing 25,000 doctors.

Its current Grand Master, Fra’ Matthew Festing, a Briton, is the 79th Prince and Grand Master, holding a rank equivalent to that of a Cardinal. If that is the case, then logic holds that all Cardinals are subordinate to the Vicar of Christ, and current Bishop of Rome, who happens to be our beloved Pope Francis.

The sacking and ouster of the former Chancellor of the Order was quite controversial. In my opinion, Pope Francis has every right to investigate the termination of Albrecht von Boeselager. The Grand Master issued a letter asking his knights to stay silent on the matter and let him [Festing] handle it as “the Holy Father’s representative to the Order”. 

Festing himself is acknowledging he is subordinate to the Pope – and not the inverse, despite Festing’s rather curt and terse letter. I feel Pope Francis has every right to investigate any matter involving any entity of the Roman Catholic Church... and I hope Grand Master Festing and our fellow knights will cordially comply with Pope Francis, whose authority supersedes other church officials.

James A. Marples, Longview, Texas

Right of reply on Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools

Reference is made to the various reports following an article carried in the newspaper MaltaToday on 4 December, 2016 and particularly to allegations made with regard to Sandro Ciliberti, his companies and his business activities.

Saviour Balzan reported in his defamatory article that this information had been disclosed to the newspaper by an informant, whose identity both the journalist and the newspaper have to date failed to disclose. It is evident to Mr Ciliberti that MediaToday’s informant is Janice Spiteri, who has on numerous occasions placed offers in reply to call for tenders, in the name of Immagine Casa Limited.

Mr Ciliberti has no hesitation to publicly declare that around the beginning of April 2015, Ms Spiteri visited the offices of Al Nibras for Science & Technology unannounced and requested to speak with Mr Ciliberti. At the time Ms Spiteri, much to Mr Ciliberti’s surprise, claimed to have been referred to Sandro Ciliberti by Edward Caruana of the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools. During this meeting Mr Ciliberti demonstrated catalogues of the Italian company Camillo Sirlanni srl and by email on 6 April, 2015, forwarded to Ms Spiteri the details of Francesco Sirianni. It is to be stated that since Ms Spiteri had requested a quotation from Al Nibras for Science and Technology Limited, Camillo Sirianni srl had relayed an offer directly addressed to Ms Spiteri through Mr Ciliberti. This was the only occasion that Mr Ciliberti met Ms Spiteri in person, and no further similar unsolicited meetings were held with any third parties.

• Sandro Ciliberti and/or his companies have not been appointed exclusive agents for Malta by the Italian furniture manufacturer Camillo Sirianni srl. Local competitors of Al Nibras have submitted and were successful in a number of tenders issued by FTS utilizing products produced by Camillo Sirianni srl. Mr Ciliberti is aware that despite the fact that Camillo Sirianni srl has requested MaltaToday to publish a right of reply in terms of the Press Act, in which these facts were declared, MaltaToday has, in breach of the provisions of the said Act, failed to date to publish such clarifications.

• The specifications carried in the FTS tender documents do not refer to a “certificate of design” as reported but rather to applicable European standards and standards “issued and/or endorsed by the Malta Standards Authority.” In addition, the images published in the call for tender documents are clearly for illustration purposes and are not those produced by nor originate from Camillo Sirianni srl.

• The FTS include items of furniture and equipment which are not within the manufacturing capabilities of Camillo Sirianni srl. The furniture specifications published by FTS have been unaltered for over 10 years. Al Nibras has only been awarded tenders published by FTS over the past four years.

• Sandro Ciliberti and Al Nibras have not been awarded any direct orders by FTS.

• Al Nibras, having been the cheapest and technically compliant bidder in a number of tenders, was not hand-delivered any cheques by Edward Caruana. All payments due to Al Nibras and Hangman Limited by the Foundation were collected from the FTS premises against a signature on a record book retained by the Foundation for the purpose.

• The reports make allegations of contact being made with minister Evarist Bartolo by the informant Immagine Casa, which has submitted various offers with reply to FTS calls. Al Nibras or Sandro Ciliberti have on no occasion approached the minister in connection with any tender but pursued legal means when aggrieved with the decision of the FTS or other institutions issuing a call for tender.

• The quantity of items delivered to the Foundation was in accordance with quantities indicated in the FTS call for tenders. Any alleged excessive quantities requested by the Foundation was not based on a decision of Al Nibras or Sandro Ciliberti or one influenced by them.

• Despite allegations of police investigations underway, which are clearly being instigated by MaltaToday, Sandro Ciliberti and Al Nibras or Hangman have not been contacted by the Malta police on the matter to date. Further to reports carried in the MaltaToday relating to an explosive device placed outside Mr Ciliberti’s residence, he has himself requested the police to investigate this criminal act in the light of the allegations of impropriety reported by MaltaToday.

• Calls for tenders, tender documents and related information are published by the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools on its website which is accessible to the public. Contrary to allegations carried in MaltaToday the cheapest offers were not always made by Al Nibras.

• The limited liability company Hangman is not defunct as reported in MaltaToday. Hangman has changed its name to Cominology Limited to better accommodate its core business to which reference has been made in various reports.

Dr Marco Ciliberti, City Consult

In your 19 December, 2016 article ‘Police trace source of payments for property in FTS investigation’s final stages’ and another report entitled ‘FTS suppliers gave Bartolo aide compensation for timely payments’, the author states that, according to his source, tenders issued by FTS gave the edge to suppliers whose furniture was designed according to a particular specification.

The author then goes on to analyse the offers made for furniture tenders in 2015 and says that this analysis shows that the cheapest offers were always made by Sandro Ciliberti’s company Al-Nibras for Science & Technology Ltd and Hangman Ltd, as well as by L&A Camilleri, a company owned by the Camilleri family, headed by Piju Camilleri.

With respect, the above statement gives the impression that my clients were awarded tenders issued by FTS and that they in some way were involved in this whole affair. This cannot be further from the truth, so much so that my clients were never awarded any tender issued by FTS.

Then in a subsequent article the author once again gives your readers the impression that my clients were in some way involved in this matter, and this time goes on to allege that there was some form of an association between my clients, Sandro Ciliberti and Edward Caruana, an allegation which is totally unfounded and completely false.

My clients reiterate in the most absolute and unconditional manner that they were never awarded any tender issued by FTS, and furthermore that they have no connection of whatever nature with Sandro Ciliberti or any of his companies, nor with Edward Caruana. My clients furthermore declare that not only have they no connection with the said persons but that they have never even spoken to or made the acquaintance of the said persons.

Stefan Camilleri, Camilleri Cassar Advocates