Court asked to order ministers to exhibit their copies of Egrant report

The NGO Repubblika filed an urgent application after ministers Konrad Mizzi, Edward Scicluna and Chris Cardona appeared to quote it in court proceedings

The courts have been asked to order government ministers to submit a copy of the Egrant report in court
The courts have been asked to order government ministers to submit a copy of the Egrant report in court

NGO Repubblika has filed an urgent court application, asking magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit to order government ministers to exhibit their copies of the Egrant inquiry report after ministers Konrad Mizzi, Edward Scicluna and Chris Cardona appeared to quote from it in court proceedings.

The report appeared to have been quoted in a reply by the three ministers to a a request for a criminal probe into the Vitals Global Healthcare hospitals deal filed by the NGO. In its application, the NGO said that the three ministers’ behaviour was suggestive of corruption.

Back in 2015, the company Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) was granted a concession by the government for it to run Karin Grech, St Luke’s and the Gozo General hospitals.

In February 2018 the concession was transferred to Steward Health Care after VGH had failed to meet a number of contractual milestones related to the development of the hospitals.

In the application, which was filed on Tuesday, lawyer Jason Azzopardi argued that the law of evidence states that a document being referred to by a witness or party must either be in the public domain or at least be accessible to the other party and, more importantly, the court.

Repubblika called on the ministers to inform the duty magistrate “in order for the suspected persons stop abusing their positions”. These suspected persons were now refusing an order by the duty magistrate, it said - something unprecedented.

READ MORE: Vitals owners secretly purchased medical supplier with exclusivity for Malta hospitals

The ministers appeared to have been caught out quoting parts of the 1500-page inquiry which were not part of the 55 pages released to the public, reads the application. “The ministers mentioned had the gall to quote from a document which the same Duty Magistrate doesn’t have access to and want to make a mockery of her.”

Quoting from the Constitutional judgment Mark Charles Stephens vs AG, the applicants argued that “the right to a fair hearing supposes compliance with the principle of equality of arms. This principle, which applies to civil as well as criminal proceedings requires each party to be given a reasonable opportunity to present his case under conditions that do not place him at a substantial disadvantage vis-à-vis his opponent.”

They called upon the court to declare a breach of the seminal principle of equality of arms and order the respondents to exhibit “in its entirety, the document from which they quoted in their reply to the initial application, that is Magistrate Bugeja’s process verbal and this besides any other order which the duty magistrate feels the need to order so that justice be done and be seen to be done”.

READ MORE: Liquidity problems pushed Vitals to seek concession sale

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