Edward Scicluna misses Simon Busuttil libel sitting for medical reasons

Court sitting for libel case filed by Edward Scicluna against former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil is postponed after Finance Minister unable to attend for medical reasons

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna

A sitting in a libel case filed against former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna had to be postponed after the minister was unable to attend court on Monday morning for medical reasons.

The case, which the minister had filed in July was prompted by Busuttil tweeting about a magisterial decree giving the go-ahead for an inquiry to be held into the VGH hospitals deal.

After the decree had been given, Busuttil had posted a message on Twitter, claiming that Scicluna, one of the three ministers to be subjects of the criminal inquiry, must step down “until he clears his name.” Scicluna had felt the tweet to be defamatory.

“As a #eurozone country we CANNOT AFFORD to have a Finance Minister embroiled in a money laundering investigation.

For the sake of our country @edward_scicluna MUST GO NOW, at least until he clears his name,” reads the tweet.

The Ministry had immediately issued a statement rebutting the insinuation that Prof. Scicluna could have had a role in money-laundering activities. 

"Such allegations are totally unfounded and are aimed at tarnishing the minister’s reputation," the ministry said. Scicluna had been forced to begin defamation proceedings in order to protect his integrity, it added.

The case’s first sitting last month fell on the eve of the Budget speech and the minister had been unable to attend.

When the case was called this morning, Minister Scicluna was not present again.

“Is he going to run away too?” asked lawyer Peter Fenech, assisting Busuttil, in a dig at Keith Schembri who withdrew his libel suit against Busuttil last week to avoid testifying.

But Scicluna’s lawyer, Ivan Sammut told magistrate Rachel Montebello that the Minister had been taken ill while abroad last week and had to be admitted to hospital for treatment upon his return to Malta.

Having been told this, the court adjourned the sitting to January, but made it clear that if the Minister failed to present his evidence on that date, the court would take it that he had no evidence to present.

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