Repubblika file appeal to Constitutional setback, launch crowdfunding initiative

NGO Repubblika files appeal after court rejects claim of fair hearing rights violation in Pilatus Bank case

Photo: Repubblika
Photo: Repubblika

Repubblika have pledged to continue fighting their legal battle to force the State to prosecute Pilatus Bank officials, even if it means taking the case to the European courts.

Addressing a press conference outside court this morning, Robert Aquilina, the NGO’s president, announced that the group have today filed an appeal to the First Hall’s rejection of their claim that their fair hearing rights had been violated by a magistrate’s refusal to abstain from presiding challenge proceedings. 

The court had been asked to order the police to prosecute bank officials singled out in the 2021 conclusion of a magisterial inquiry into the bank after the prosecutions failed to materialise.

The NGO said that the bank had been used to launder money for dictatorships around the globe, “including Azerbaijan.”

Aquilina told reporters that Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, the owner and founder of Pilatus Bank, had set up a bank in Switzerland called Par Suisse, but after pressure from the US and EU governments had led Switzerland to close it down, he had set his sights on Malta, where the authorities had “welcomed him with open arms.”

“Instead of defending the citizen, they opened the door wide and became his accomplices, allowing [Hasheminejad] to use his political contacts with the highest offices in the country, principally with Joseph Muscat and Keith Schembri, to continue operating this criminal operation unhindered.”

“We are saying this with the evidence already in our hands,” Aquilina said.

Undeterred by the first court’s rejection of their Constitutional case earlier this month, he said that if the Maltese courts would not uphold their case, they were "committed to take the case to the European Court."

Aquilina also announced that Repubblika had launched a crowdfund to cover the “considerable financial challenge” posed by their legal battles. He thanked lawyer Jason Azzopardi for taking on their case pro bono, but court costs also needed to be paid. Encouraging the public to donate to the cause, he said that this was not Repubblika’s fight, but one that was in the interest of the Maltese public.