Dalli: PN leader should uphold rights of Maltese not defend Kessler

Former EU commissioner John Dalli says PN leader Simon Busuttil 'is galloping to charge at his pet hates like Don Quixote'

John Dalli
John Dalli

Former EU Commissioner John Dalli has called on Opposition leader Simon Busuttil to uphold the rights of the Maltese citizen "and not the abuse of the likes of Dr Giovanni Kessler", the head of anti-fraud agency OLAF.

Dalli was reacting to Busuttil's speech in parliament on Wednesday night, in which the PN leader demanded an explanation over claims by the OLAf director that Police Commissioner Peter Paul Zammit had failed to cooperate with the agency in an ongoing investigation on Dalli, the former European Commissioner.

Busuttil insisted that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat should shoulder responsibility for the Police Commissioner's actions, whose refusal to cooperate with the anti-fraud agency was in breach of EU law.

Likening Busuttil to Don Quixote “galloping to charge at his pet hates”, Dalli said that he knows “nothing” of the PN leader’s claim that Zammit had refused to collaborate with OLAF.

However, in a statement issued Thursday morning, the former commissioner inferrred clearly that Busuttil was collaborating with OLAF.

“I would like to ask this expert of all EU laws, procedures and initiatives (especially where funds are involved), whether he has some insider information from OLAF or the Commission, with whom he has been collaborating so generously, of the requests that were made by OLAF to the local police," Dalli said, in a dig at Busuttil as a past beneficiary of governmenet-funded programmes.

"If he does not, who is he to stand in judgement from a point of ignorance? Or does he expect every one of us to stand in such awe of the EU institutions that we simply bend over and take whatever they chose to dish at us?” Dalli asked.

Dalli said that Kessler had “invented a baseless suspicion of misappropriation of European funds by a local pizzeria to give him the pretext to come to Malta to interview a Maltese citizen, which he in fact had no legal base to do" - a reference to the irregularity by which Kessler had extended his internal OLAF investigation into an external one, so that he could travel to Malta to investigate the Dalligate allegations.

Dalli said that Kessler gave himself permission to change the scope of the investigation twice in five days, and said that the OLAF chief had made “a hurried assessment to launch the investigation only a few hours after he allegedly received the allegations of Swedish Match from the Commission.”

While pointing out that Kessler was heavily criticised by the OLAF Supervisory Committee appointed by the European Parliament to scrutinise the actions of OLAF, Dalli asked why Busuttil, who was an MEP at the time, did not take any action. “What did he do when this information was coming out?  Did he object to this and other gross breaches by OLAF?  Or did he sulk when the EPP decided to put pressure on the Commission so that all the facts about my case come out?”

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