Court rules officers mentioned in constitutional case have a right to clear their names

Defence lawyer in a Constitutional Case argues that the officers mentioned in the plaintiff's testimony have a right to clear their names.

A lawyer representing the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General this morning told the court that officers mentioned in the plaintiff’s testimony had a right to clear their names by taking the witness stand themselves.

Mr Justice Tonio Mallia today continued hearing the Constitutional Case tabled by Joseph Ellul Grech. The former accountant to the Daewoo car agency in Malta is pursuing a constitutional claim that he suffered degrading and inhumane treatment at the hands of police investigators during 1999 defamation charges instigated by former minister John Dalli.

In today’s sitting, lawyer Susan Sciberras informed the court she was encountering practical issues in obtaining affidavits from people involved in the investigation of Joseph Ellul Grech.

“People mentioned in the plaintiff’s testimony have a right to be given the opportunity to clear their names. They have suffered due to these allegations. Officers have been placed in a bad light and have a right to clear their names”, the lawyer argued.

Mr Justice Tonio Mallia granted the defence time until the 19 September, by which date all affidavits need to be exhibited at court. Moreover Judge Mallia told Sciberras that all those who submit an affidavit have to be ready to take the witness stand and face cross examination, “including anyone living abroad”, he said.

The case continues in September.

In 2003, Grech was acquitted of any involvement in what was known as the ‘Daewoo scandal’. Using forged bank statements and 20,000 anonymous letters, it was claimed that former finance Minister John Dalli had failed to declare assets he held in an overseas bank account.

Magistrate Antonio Micallef Trigona acquitted Ellul Grech, saying the prosecution had failed to prove his involvement. He was cleared of defaming Dalli, forging public, commercial or private bank documents and making malicious use of them, fabricating evidence, and evading customs duty and value added tax on hunting knives, two slings, a crossbow, an air pistol, a knuckle-duster and a penknife. However the accountant was convicted of keeping the weapons without a police licence and was fined €116 (Lm50).

The Daewoo car agency in Malta, was owned by Joe Gaffarena and subsequently had to close down over an alleged misappropriation of funds. Between 1996 and 1998, Dalli, then a Nationalist MP in opposition, was engaged as consultant with the company.

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