Updated | No show for Kessler as EC turns down privileges committee request

John Dalli requests Speaker's permission to confront Giovanni Kessler during Privileges Committee

The European Commission turned down a request for OLAF chief Giovanni Kessler to appear as a witness in front of the parliamentary privileges committee.

The committee is investigating a breach of privilege complaint by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat against Simon Busuttil, for not retracting his claim in the House that Muscat personally intervened in the police investigation concerning bribery allegations against John Dalli.

Kessler was notified to appear in front of the committee yesterday afternoon, but at 6:17pm, he e-mailed Speaker Anglu Farrugia to tell him that the European Commission had prohibited him from attending.

“Any Commission official who is asked to give evidence before a committee of a national Parliament carrying out an inquiry needs to obtain a prior authorisation from the College of Commissioners,” EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva wrote in a letter to Kessler.

“Given the extremely short prior notice of the invitation received from the Maltese House of Representatives and the scarcity of information contained therein, it is materially impossible for the Commission to grant you the mandatory prior authorisation and permission pursuant to the above-mentioned rules by the required date.”

The committee agreed to a request from Nationalist MP Chris Said to make a formal request to the EC to authorise Kessler to testify.

Former European Commissioner John Dalli yesterday asked Speaker Anglu Farrugia for permission to confront Kessler in the parliamentary committee.

But Farrugia replied that while all committees were open to the public, only those called in as witnesses can intervene during a committee, as dictated by standing order.

“John Dalli is welcome to attend the committee like any other member of the general public, but the privileges committee is not the right forum for his request,” the Speaker told MaltaToday. He added that his reply to Dalli was passed on to the members of the committee.

Dalli said that if Kessler was being called to testify on political interference, “it would be interesting to see what first-hand information he has on this count.”

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