Updated | Bezzina files libel against PL newspaper for application fraud claims

Toni Bezzina insists the newspaper was lying when it claimed he had made up anything in his ODZ development application

According to Kullhadd, PN MP Toni Bezzina's plans included a non-existent room
According to Kullhadd, PN MP Toni Bezzina's plans included a non-existent room

Nationalist MP Toni Bezzina has filed a libel suit against Labour Party weekly newspaper KullHadd and its editor for “the lie they invented” against him in the paper’s latest issue.

The paper claimed Bezzina fraudulently submitted plans containing a non-existent 31-square metre room in order to facilitate a development application on ODZ land.

In a statement, Bezzina said that he had repeatedly stated that the PL was lying when it claimed he had made up anything in the application.

He had previously refuted the Prime Minister’s claims that it was a case of “potential fraud”, claiming that the Labour Party’s media had manipulated photos.

“This is a lie from beginning to end,” he said.

The newspaper, which described the application as having “a strong smell of corruption”, claimed that the room could not be seen in aerial photos dating to 1957 and 1967, and explained that had Bezzina not withdrawn the application, the room in question would have made “all the difference” and would have been “crucial” in the application being approved under a rural development policy that allows the construction of villas in the countryside.

The 1967 aerial photo of the site in question provided by Toni Bezzina purports to show a room in the area marked in red; the Labour Party is insisting that the area is a wall
The 1967 aerial photo of the site in question provided by Toni Bezzina purports to show a room in the area marked in red; the Labour Party is insisting that the area is a wall

The 1967 aerial photo of the site in question provided by Bezzina purports to show a room in the area marked in red; the Labour Party is insisting that the area is a wall.

The policy allows any structures of “architectural, historical, or vernacular interest” be transformed into dwellings, provided, however, that the existing building to be converted has a minimum area of 100 square metres.

Bezzina insisted he had withdrawn his application out of respect to the PN and its leader and not because he had broken the law in any manner.

In 2016 alone, 745 similar applications had been approved, he said.

The libel suit was signed by lawyers Joe Zammit Maempel and Veronica Perici Calascione.

PL calls on Simon Busuttil to take action against Bezzina

In reaction to Bezzina’s libel case, the PL dismissed the Nationalist MP as being “unbelieveable”, pointing to a previous libel case he had lost.

“It would be better for the Opposition leader not to remain silent when faced with a case such as theis one, considering that he is responsible, having defended [Bezzina] in full force,” the PL said in a statement.

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