Keith Schembri resists answering 17 Black questions in libel against Simon Busuttil

The suit revolves around a speech delivered by the former PN leader in March 2016 at a national protest in Valletta

Busuttil had addressed the protest back in March 2016
Busuttil had addressed the protest back in March 2016

Libel proceedings instituted by OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri against former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil should not be allowed to include questions about the company 17 Black, Schembri’s lawyers argued in court this morning.

The suit revolves around a speech delivered by the then PN leader on 6 March 2016 in a national protest in Valletta against corruption which was organised following the Panama Papers leak.

Lawyer Edward Gatt, appearing for Schembri insisted with magistrate Francesco Depasquale that 17 Black had not been mentioned in the March 2016 protest and that the court should rule that questions on the subject should not be allowed.

Otherwise, argued the layer, proceedings would turn into a “fishing expedition” for ulterior motives.   

Lawyer Peter Fenech, for Busuttil, said that a person with nothing to fear would not make such conditions.

“What am I supposed to do? Not laugh?

“The fact that a detail was not mentioned in a speech doesn’t mean that I don’t have suspicions and cannot use the information in my possession. The Panama Papers mention secret companies.”

He added that the Panama Papers mentioned secret companies, one of which belonged to Schembri.

"Schembri must answer. He filed the libel, now he must allow us to put questions even if documentation emerged later... What Busuttil had alleged was proved right, the pieces of the mosaic were falling into place," the lawyer argued.

The court put the case off to March 7 to deliver its decree specifically on this application.

READ MORE: Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi libel cases deferred after court accepts to postpone their testimony