Nikki Dimech bribery acquittal confirmed on appeal

Dimech was last year cleared of threatening a public officer and bribery after his case was heard anew

Former Sliema Mayor Nikki Dimech
Former Sliema Mayor Nikki Dimech

Former Sliema mayor Nikki Dimech has had his acquittal on bribery charges confirmed on appeal.

Dimech had been forced to resign his position as mayor after he was accused of demanding a bribe from the Sliema council’s former contracts manager Stephen Buhagiar, who claimed that the former mayor had asked for money in return for a contract of services he had secured with the council.

The contract was assigned for a trial period of six months in September 2009, on condition that it could be terminated if Buhagiar’s service was deemed unsatisfactory.

This is in fact what happened and the council had terminated the contract by a vote of eight to one in March 2010. Buhagiar then promptly filed a police report claiming that he had been overlooked because he had not handed over the bribe to the then-mayor.

In an interview with MaltaToday he had made a number of allegations about his arrest, which he repeated before the Court of Magistrates. The judge quoted from this story at length in her 74-page judgment.

READ MORE: This is my story | Nikki Dimech

"At 9:45am, he was told that if he did not fully corroborate what he was saying, ‘I will be dragged in front of all the press to court... I told him that this as not fair and that I wanted to have a lawyer present. I was given a phone and I tried to phone my lawyer but he was abroad. When I asked to call another lawyer, the police did not let me."

"Dimech claims the police inspector told him to consider his political career ‘already over’ and ‘perhaps salvage my professional business’" noted the court.

"He also says he was told that if he didn't admit to Buhagiar's allegation, ‘he would make a show of me to the press. I kept on telling him that Buhagiar's statement was not true but he would not accept this. This mental torture continued until 12:58pm."

These were amongst a number of other allegations which were published in other newspapers.

The court said it was not of the opinion that these allegations fall within the parameters of the crime with which he had been charged. “Although it agrees with the Attorney General that what the accused said in the two interviews could have been intended to attack, destroy or sully the reputation of the prosecutor, that which was said cannot be considered as insults or threats.”

For this reason, the court rejected the appeal and confirmed the judgment at first instance.

Lawyers Mark Vassallo and Edward Gatt were Dimech’s defence counsel.

READ MORE: Former Sliema mayor Nikki Dimech cleared of bribery

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