Updated | Magistrate throws out request for new inquiry into Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri

Magistrate Francesco Depasquale ruled that Simon Busuttil and David Casa should not have requested a fresh inquiry on new evidence unearthed recently over kickback allegations but instead gone to the magistrate already tasked with such an investigation

The court has rejected a fresh inquiry requested by David Casa and Simon Busuttil
The court has rejected a fresh inquiry requested by David Casa and Simon Busuttil

Updated at 9.20pm with Simon Busuttil's reply in Parliament

The magistrate’s court has rejected a request for a fresh inquiry into the dealings of minister Konrad Mizzi and the prime minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri.

The request was made by former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil and Nationalist Party MEP David Casa last month, following fresh revelations from the Daphne Project.

The pair had requested a criminal inquiry into Mizzi, Schembri, Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna and Karl Cini and Mario Pullicino, the Malta agent for the gas floating storage unit.

The request was based on a leaked email that showed how Dubai-based company 17 Black was intended to be a ‘target client’ for the Panama companies Mizzi and Schembri had set up. The contents of the email were later confirmed by Schembri, who admitted 17 Black was inserted in a draft business plan but no trading was ever carried out.

Read also:

After 2017 denial, Keith Schembri now acknowledges existence of 17 Black

Simon Busuttil and David Casa ask magistrate to investigate Muscat allies over money laundering

It is not in the best interest of justice to have double, or even triple investigations on the same case Magistrate Francesco Depasquale

However, in its decision, the magistrate’s court this morning said that “it is not in the best interest of justice to have double, or even triple” investigations on the same case since this will lead to “unnecessary waste of resources and disrupts the efficient conduct of such a complex investigation”.

Depasquale said the new allegation concerned a crime on which an inquiry had already been requested in July last year.

He ruled that the fresh evidence, in the form of an email, should have been presented in the original case.

The magistrate also said that there was no evidence to substantiate the opening of an inquiry into Pullicino.

The July 2017 inquiry refers to a request made by Busuttil shortly after the general election for a criminal probe into Panama Papers, through which it transpired that Mizz and Schembri had opened companies in the central American country.

Magistrate Ian Farrugia had ruled there were enough grounds for a criminal inquiry to start, at the end of which it would be determined whether a criminal investigation was warranted.

Read also: Magistrate to kick-start Panama Papers inquiry into Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi

However, the Panama Papers inquiry has since stalled after the people called into question, including Mizzi, Schembri and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, appealed the ruling, insisting that similar inquiries were already under way.

The appeals process is still underway.

Busuttil accuses Muscat and acolytes of wasting court's time

In his adjournment speech in Parliament on Monday night, Busuttil said he respected the magistrate's decision but denied that he was wasting the court's time.

"It is the Prime Minister and his acolytes who are wasting the court's time by appealing a magistrate's ruling last year to initiate an inquiry [into the Panama Papers] upon my request... those who have nothing to hide submit themselves to scrutiny," Busuttil said, accusing the Labour Party of spinning today's court ruling.

Busuttil said the judgment delivered today confirmed that the new information revealed last month, which implied money laundering linked to the power station project, merited a criminal investigation.

"The magsitrate said, however, that the inquiry should form part of the one that started last year," Busuttil said, adding that the Prime Minister's continued defence of Mizzi and Schembri made him an accomplice.