State officials deny power to intervene in hospitals deal, State Advocate cites government instructions

In their reply to the Nationalist Party, the State General and the police chief say they have no power to take action over hospitals' deal while the State Advocate says he has already followed government instructions to the fullest extent

The State Advocate, Attorney General and Police Commissioner have said they had no power to comply with a demand they take action against the individuals involved in the sale of public hospitals to Vitals Global Healthcare, which the courts have declared to be fraudulent at both first and second instances.

Two replies were filed late on Wednesday, as the one-week period for action to be taken,  given by PN leader Bernard Grech and MP Adrian Delia in a judicial protest they filed last week, lapsed.

In two counter-protests filed before the First Hall, Civil Court, the State Advocate, Attorney General and Police Commissioner said that their offices were not empowered to do what was being requested of them. 

The State Advocate argued that he had already gone as far as he could, having followed the instructions of his client, the government, in the arbitration proceedings between it and Steward Healthcare, which are still ongoing. The State Advocate did not have the legal power to act on his own initiative, he said.

In the second counter-protest, filed jointly by the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police, it was argued that their functions were also clearly defined by law as being in the criminal law sphere. The request made by Delia and Grech was impossible for them to fulfil, they said, as they could not institute civil proceedings for damages.

The functions of the AG were not investigative and the Police Commissioner’s duty was to enforce criminal law, not file civil proceedings, they argued, adding that the police had been assisting the magisterial inquiry into the Vitals deal and had provided all the resources necessary.

The State Advocate’s counter-protest was signed by lawyer Julian Farrugia, while lawyers James D’Agostino and Miguel Degabriele signed the counter-protest filed on behalf of the Attorney General and Police Commissioner.