Court rejects Muscat's request to appeal decision to refuse his demand for exhibition of Vitals inquiry application

Joseph Muscat is not allowed to appeal court's decision upholding Repubblika's refusal to exhibit copies of two documents, one of them being Repubblika’s 2019 application requesting an inquiry into the hospitals deal

Former prime minister Joseph Muscat
Former prime minister Joseph Muscat

A court has rejected Joseph Muscat’s application for permission to appeal a decree it had issued in November, which had refused his request that it order the exhibition of the original court application filed by Notary Robert Aquilina, president of the NGO Repubblika, which had triggered the magisterial inquiry into the Vitals Global Healthcare hospitals deal.

The decree was handed down this morning, during a ten-minute sitting before madam justice Doreen Clarke.

In her ruling, the judge explained that the law was clear and unequivocal in stating that no appeal could be filed to a decree upholding or denying a request to exhibit such a document, until after final judgement was handed down.

Lawyer Vince Galea, appearing for Muscat, asked that he be allowed to make submissions on the decree in the next sitting, which will take place later this month.

The deal between the Government and Vitals’ successors, Steward Healthcare, was struck down by a court last February, the judge in that case decrying the “fraudulent and, possibly, criminal behaviour by Steward…as well as Vitals…and its investors.” An appeal to that decision was subsequently also rejected in October. In reaction to the decisions, Muscat had taken to social media to blame the failure of the hospitals deal on “hidden vested interests, opposing the modernisation” of Malta’s public healthcare.

Last November, lawyers representing the disgraed former Prime Minister had cried foul after the NGO refused Muscat's request to instruct its lawyer to exhibit copies of two documents, one of them being Repubblika’s 2019 application to request the commencement of the inquiry in genre into the Vitals Global Healthcare hospitals deal.

Muscat’s lawyers had asked Aquilina to exhibit a copy of two applications filed in 2019 before the inquiring magistrate in 2019. 

But Aquilina had refused to do so, telling the court that the Repubblika committee had discussed the request and had decided not to comply with Muscat’s request.