Dalligate | Attorney General ignoring Constitutional decision in Silvio Zammit case, court told

Silvio Zammit has accused the Attorney General of ignoring the Constitutional Court and dragging his feet by refusing to declare his evidence closed in the six-year legal saga

Silvio Zammit
Silvio Zammit

Businessman Silvio Zammit, who was accused of trading in influence and complicity in the request of a €60 million bribe from a Swedish tobacco company has accused the Attorney General of ignoring the Constitutional Court and dragging his feet by refusing to declare his evidence closed in the six-year legal saga.

In April, after Zammit sought recourse in the Constitutional Court due to the inordinate delay in declaring the evidence closed, it ordered the criminal proceedings to continue, but the Attorney General had filed an appeal, which was denied. The acts of the case were sent back to the Court of Magistrates to continue being heard, but had to be reassigned to a new magistrate after the presiding magistrate was promoted.

This led to more delays despite the Constitutional Court having ruled that Zammit was suffering a continuing breach of his fundamental right to a fair hearing, argued his lawyers Edward Gatt and Kris Busietta.

“After the Constitutional Court’s judgment [Zammit] was under the impression that the AG was going to recognise that this situation could not continue and in the absence of Inge Delfosse’s testimony, declare that prosecution’s evidence closed,” they argued.

But this was not to be. Instead, Zammit’s application reads, the AG continued to drag his feet for months on end, with nothing happening in several sittings.

His lawyers pointed out that despite stating that the man’s fundamental rights were being breached by the continued delay, the judgment gave no time limit for the closing of the prosecution’s evidence.

Zammit goes on to say that in February 2019, the AG “dreamt up” another piece of evidence required, despite the passage of over six years from the beginning of the proceedings, requesting a voice sample for comparison with a recording, allegedly of Zammit talking to Delfosse. A defence request for the expunging of the recording from the acts of the case, on the grounds that Delfosse – who had allegedly made the recording – had not confirmed it on oath, was not upheld.

Moreover, when the AG had issued the articles under which Zammit was to be judged, the court did not read them out, despite repeated requests for this. It is only when the articles are read out that the court can transform itself from a court of criminal inquiry to one of criminal judicature.

In addition, the articles had been issued on condition that the analysis of the recording is carried out. This caveat had no legal basis, said Zammit’s lawyers. “If the AG sends the articles to be read out and the accused has no objection that the case be judged by the Court of Magistrates, those articles must be read out.”

It was evident, they said, that the AG had “no difficulty in keeping the defendant in a perpetual state where his fundamental right to a fair hearing is breached,” and that it was only a direct order from a constitutional court that the prosecution’s case can be closed.
The court was asked to declare Zammit’s rights were breached and order the immediate closure of the prosecution’s evidence.