Busuttil rejects Dalli’s ‘absurd’ claims that he was behind his EC dismissal

PN leader denies John Dalli's claims that he was involved in the latter's dismissal as European Commissioner as an 'absurd conspiracy theory'.

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil vehemently denied John Dalli’s claims that he was behind the former European Commissioner’s downfall.

“The idea that I was behind Dalli's removal from the European Commission or somehow an ‘accomplice’ of former EC President Jose Manuel Barroso is preposterous,” Busuttil said. “It would be laughable were it  not such a serious and false accusation leveled at me.

“As I stated last Saturday, it seems that for John Dalli crossing over to the Labour Party and shaming Malta by being dismissed from the European Commission is not bad enough.

”Now he wants to implicate me in his absurd conspiracy theories.”

In an interview with the Malta Independent on Sunday, Dalli accused Busuttil of being Barroso’s “accomplice” in his dismissal as European Health Commissioner.

“On the 17 October, the day after I was assassinated by Barroso, Simon Busuttil was in Bucharest for an EPP general council,” Dalli said. “I received telephone calls from MEPs saying ‘what is happening john, this Simon Busuttil and Lawrence Gonzi are going around everybody telling them this is an opportunity.

“The opportunity was to seize the Nationalist Party, because I was in the way. They wanted to destroy me, they wanted to kill me.”

Busuttil criticised this accusation as “prepeosterous”.

“When I contested the party leadership, John Dalli had long been in in bed with the Labour Party and even spent years shooting at the Nationalist Party from Super One TV in a most undignified manner for a person holding the office of a European Commissioner,” Busuttil said. “John Dalli should stop inventing conspiracy theories and come to terms, once and for all, with the responsibility he ought to carry for the grave damage that he caused to his party and to his country.

“He should stop shifting onto others the responsibility that he should carry himself.”

Last week, Busuttil denied Dalli’s claims that he had nurtured a “friendship” with OLAF director-general Giovanni Kessler.

In a statement released to the press, Dalli laid into Busuttil after he was witnessed chatting to Kessler on a flight from Malta to Brussels earlier last week.

“Simon and Giovanni are on a first name basis and close enough for Giovanni to cross the barrier between business and economy class to go and talk to Simon,” Dalli said. “For transparency’s sake, Simon should enlighten the Maltese public. How was this relationship struck and nurtured? Whether this friendship was of long duration or was it a relationship that developed recently? Did this close friendship exist when Kessler took upon himself to conduct the investigation of the Swedish Match Allegations?”

Busuttil responded that his “friendship” with Kessler was “a figment of John Dalli's imagination”.

“I spoke to Mr Kessler for the first time ever last week when I happened to take the same flight as him to Brussel,” the PN leader said. “He was returning to Brussels after giving evidence in Court in Malta, whereas I was flying to Brussels to attend the EPP Summit. 

“If John Dalli wants to descend deeper into public embarrassment and continue to live a lie, he is free to do so. But he should not draw me into his lies.”

The former commissioner resigned in 2012 after an OLAF investigation claimed he was aware of a €60 million bribe solicited by Silvio Zammit – currently facing bribery charges in court – to reverse a retail ban on snus tobacco for Swedish firm Swedish Match.

Both Dalli and Busuttil have been at loggerheads since the Opposition leader claimed that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had interfered in a police investigation so that charges are not filed against Dalli.

Busuttil’s claims were denied by Muscat, who filed a breach of privilege complaint in Parliament after demanding that the accusation be retracted.

Dalli has accused Kessler of perjury when the OLAF chief told a Maltese court in the compilation of evidence against Silvio Zammit that the former commissioner’s aides – Joanna Darmanin and Paola Duarte – said that Dalli suggested reversing the EU’s ban on snus.

Dalli claims this is “false evidence” that Kessler sent to the police without verifying it beforehand.

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