No case against John Dalli - Police Commissioner and Attorney General

OLAF report not based on the requisites of the law - Commissioner of Police.

Police commissioner Peter-Paul Zammit
Police commissioner Peter-Paul Zammit

Police Commissioner Peter Paul Zammit has declared that there is no criminal evidence to arraign or accuse former EU health commissioner John Dalli on grounds of corruption or trading in influence over the allegations that he was aware of a €60 million bribery attempt by one of his political canvassers.

Zammit on Saturday said that the police investigations in relation to the report by the EU's anti-fraud agency OLAF were ongoing, but as things stand there was no evidence to incriminate John Dalli. He added that he had already consulted with Peter Grech, the Attorney General, who agreed with his assessment.

Dalli, a former PN leadership contender and long-standing finance minister, served as EU health commissioner until he was forced to resign on 16 October 2012 by European Commission president José Barroso. Dalli has always insisted that he was a victim of a coup by the tobacco lobby and various political interests in Brussels and Malta conspiring against him.

In Europe, the press was generally sympathetic to John Dalli and surprised that former Maltese MEPs - including PN leader Simon Busuttil, Labour deputy prime minister Louis Grech and finance minister Edward Scicluna - never uttered a word of support for Dalli.

MaltaToday was at the forefront in investigating the complexity of the accusations, in the process uncovering the double-dealing of Rita Schembri, a member of the OLAF supervisory committee in Malta who has since resigned from her post as head of the OPM's Internal Audit and Investigations Department.

MaltaToday had published the OLAF report exclusively, revealing that director Giovanni Kessler had specifically suggested that there was no direct evidence connecting John Dalli to a bribe request linked to relaxing tobacco laws, or evidence that Dalli knew of a bribe to influence changes to the tobacco cirective.

Kessler however claimed that there had been "unambiguous circumstantial evidence" in the form of phone calls, repeatedly made between Silvio Zammit and Dalli at crucial times and in between Zammit's conversations with smokeless tobacco lobby ESTOC, and after Zammit's interrogation by Kessler himself.

Kessler effectively condemned Dalli in a press conference held a day after Dalli had stepped down, where he suggested that a number of unambiguous and converging circumstantial items of evidence gathered in the course of the investigation, showed that Dalli was actually aware of both the machinations of Silvio Zammit, then a PN deputy mayor in Sliema, and that his name was being used to gain a financial advantage.

Police Commissioner Peter Paul Zammit told MaltaToday that the OLAF report was not based on the requisites of Maltese criminal law and that its conclusions were distinctly different to those of a criminal investigation carried out in Malta.

He added that the police investigation in the case was ongoing but nearly concluded, and that officially he could confirm that today there was no criminal evidence to incriminate John Dalli.

Giovanni Kessler has faced repeated calls for his resignation from several members of the European Parliament, including vice-president Othmar Karas, a member of the European Popular Party, who accused Kessler of using illegal and disputable methods in his investigations, which led to the resignation of former commissioner Dalli.

The whole saga has not only served as déjà vu for John Dalli, but also for the commissioner of police. In 2004, the same Peter Paul Zammit was the prosecuting officer investigating the false private investigator's report authored by Joe Zahra, claiming that Dalli had received kickbacks on a multi-million medical supplies contract awarded to an Italian firm.

The investigator's report was allegedly believed by then-prime minister Lawrence Gonzi, who told Dalli he could not have a minster "under investigation" when the report itself had not yet been delivered to the Commissioner of Police for investigation. After Dalli's resignation, Joe Zahra was subsequently arraigned by Peter Paul Zammit and sentenced to two years' incarceration for fabricating the report.

In 2008, Dalli was re-elected as MP appointed social policy and health minister. But tensions with Lawrence Gonzi continued until he was finally kicked upstairs to the post of European Commissioner.

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