Konrad Mizzi's failure to appear for libel he filed is 'obscene abuse of procedure' - Jason Azzopardi

Nationalist Party MP Jason Azzopardi erupted in court after Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi's lawyer asked for his client's cross examination to be postponed pending the conclusion of a magisterial inquiry into the Panama Papers

PN MP Jason Azzopardi lambasted Konrad Mizzi's reluctance to testify in a libel case against him
PN MP Jason Azzopardi lambasted Konrad Mizzi's reluctance to testify in a libel case against him

Jason Azzopardi erupted in court this morning, describing a request that Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi avoid being cross-examined in a libel case he himself had filed as an “obscene abuse of procedure”.

Azzopardi is a defendant in the libel case filed by Mizzi over a press conference he had held together with PN MP Marthese Portelli in May 2016. The press conference dealt with Enemalta's part-privatisation and the involvement of a Chinese man, who had an offshore company opened by the same advisory firm that opened companies in Panama for Mizzi and the Prime Minister's chief of staff Keith Schembri.

Mizzi has so far refused to testify in the libel case on the grounds that the matter is the subject of a magisterial inquiry.

The magisterial inquiry referred to by Mizzi is a wide-ranging probe of several high-profile Maltese and their links to the Panama Papers. Apart from Mizzi, the inquiry is tasked to probe Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Schembri, businessmen Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Malcolm Scerri and Adrian Hillman. The inquiry was prompted by former Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil last year.

However, Magistrate Ian Farrugia’s decision to allow the inquiry to go ahead is the subject of no less than seven appeals. The cases are further delayed as the judge allocated to hear the appeals was asked to recuse himself by Busuttil on the basis that he is married to a Labour MEP.

Magistrate Francesco Depasquale listened as Azzopardi lambasted the minister, who was not in court today, for using the inquiry as a “ruse to avoid being cross examined”.

“He must have opened the secret Panama company to help id-Dar tal-Providenza,” Azzopardi said sarcastically.

Lawyer Peter Fenech, appearing for Azzopardi, pointed out that one case had nothing to do with Panama, as it concerned Enemalta. But Mizzi’s lawyer Aaron Mifsud Bonnici insisted there was reference to Panama accounts.

The case continues in October.

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