No case against Dalli ‘doesn't change’ Commission’s position

European Commission reiterates John Dalli’s position as Commissioner was no longer ‘tenable’.

The European Commission has stood by its position taken on Dalligate insisting that the former Health Commissioner's position was no longer "politically tenable".

Addressing journalists, a senior Commission spokesperson said John Dalli's resignation was not "a judicial indictment" but "a result of the OLAF report, which made his position untenable".

Dalli has since insisted that his resignation had been "forced".

In a 20-minute press conference, journalists quizzed the Commission spokesperson on whether the Commission would be changing its position in view of the outcome of the police investigation. Maltese Police Commissioner Peter Paul Zammit has declared that the authorities had no incriminating evidence against Dalli and he will not be arraigned court.

The police investigation is ongoing.

"Our position remains the same. Dalli's position was no longer politically tenable," the spokesperson said, adding that the juridical and political aspects of the case were separate.

Asked whether the Commission believed the Maltese authorities were "pursuing the case properly", the spokesperson said the EC had no interest in "passing judgement" over the police investigation.

The spokesperson also denied that Dalli's resignation had "substantially delayed" the implementation of the Tobacco Directive.

"The Commission did its job and issued the proposals on the Tobacco Directive before the end of the year. As far as the Commission is concerned, things moved forward according to the plan and the legal process is ongoing," she said.

A leaked report on the OLAF investigation published by MaltaToday revealed that no direct evidence of the former commissioner's involvement in an alleged bribe was found.

Green MEP Bart Staes, vice-president of the budgetary control committee, said the OLAF report had shown "an unacceptable collusion" between Swedish Match, lobbyist and former head of the Council's legal services Michel Petite, and Catherine Day, secretary-general of the European Commission.

Asked how the Commission viewed Day's position, the spokesperson today said the secretary-general had carried her role "in exactly the normal way intended".

Dalli was accused by OLAF director Giovanni Kessler of having been aware, going by circumstantial evidence of telephone toll records, that Silvio Zammit, a canvasser, was using the commissioner's name to solicit a €60 million bribe from Swedish Match to influence the reversal of a trading ban.

In a dossier presented by the European People's Party chief rapporteur on OLAF, the chief of the EU anti-fraud agency Giovanni Kessler was accused by Inge Graessle MEP of having attempted to suborn witnesses in keeping up the pretence that Dalli was present at a meeting where a cash offer might have been - which never happened; and of using the secretary-general of the European Smokeless Tobacco Council to call Zammit in an attempt at substantiating their accusation.

One journalist asked the Commission spokesperson whether the EC was ready to help John Dalli clear his name and restore his public image. The spokesperson however reiterated that politically, his role was untenable "while respecting the presumption of innocence which remains valid today".

"Dalli's decision to step down was due to his intentions to clear his name," she said, adding that she had nothing to add to the Commission's statement that Dalli had stepped down, "in agreement with the President of the Commission", in front of witnesses.

More in Dalligate
Nikki Petroni
The damage to the personality of Dalli is immense, albeit now it is on the mend, but the damage to the reputation of Malta as a whole is unmeasureable, and this will take much longer to repair! Let this be a lesson to all of us that airing our dirty laundry overseas is never justified. Internally we may argue and squabble as much as we want, but when it comes to outside representation we need to stand with one face and one voice! We need to defend our fellow compatriots with heart and soul, and insist that they are treated fairly. Common laws must apply to them as well that they are innocent until proven guilty. What they did to Dalli - with the help of the Maltese authorities - is despicable. But this was Malta's (GONE-zi) as much as the EU Commission (Barroso) doing.
It is clear that Barroso and OLAF worked together to get Dalli out and all this because they stood to gain from a reduced level of enforcement on the Tobacco legislation + buddy buddy arrangements with GONZIPN. If Dalli is not re-instated, then all of Europe must insist that Barroso will not be elected again next year. We cannot have corruption at the very top of the EU Commission.
George Muscat
Do you mean to tell us that when someone is framed up in the EU "Elite's Club", Justice doesn't exits? I am proud I never voted for joining EU, and whatever elections that has to do with this Club, I will never vote except to take Malta out of this discriminatory club.
delia alfred
" the juridical and political aspects of the case were separate." The Commission spokesperson is right: juridically one has to bring up watertight proofs to get a person found guilty; politically you can be the accuser, the jury and the judge all in one and decide without bringing up any substantial proof.

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