Chris Fearne and Edward Scicluna are set to appear in criminal court on May 29 in front of Magistrate Leonard Caruana, as they face fraud charges related to the hospitals’ deal. 

The appointment of this court date falls just one day after former prime minister Joseph Muscat is also set to appear in criminal court to answer the charges of money laundering, bribery and criminal association, among other crimes. 

Malta’s political sphere has been rocked by the conclusion of the Vitals inquiry, which looked into the deal that saw the privatisation of three state hospitals, now culminating in senior politicians and government officials having criminal charges filed against them. 

The conclusions of the inquiry have not been made public. 

Muscat and his former chief of staff, Keith Schembri and former health minister Konrad Mizzi, as well as all the other people charged alongside them, are expected to appear in court on May 28.

Former deputy prime minister Fearne, Central Bank governor Scicluna and 13 other people, including three top civil servants, are among a second-tier list of defendants to face charges in connection with the case. 

Fearne and Scicluna, as well as all those listed with them, are to be charged with fraud amounting to over €5,000 and having made fraudulent gains. They also face charges of misappropriation. 

The list of those charged alongside Fearne and Scicluna includes former permanent secretaries Alfred Camilleri and Joseph Rapa, current permanent secretary Ronald Mizzi, adjudication committee members James Camenzuli, Manuel Castagna and Robert Borg, financial controller Kenneth Deguara, as well as five lawyers: Kevin Deguara, Jean Carl Farrugia, Aron Mifsud Bonnici, Deborah Anne Chappell and Bradley Gatt.

Fearne stepped down as deputy prime minister and resigned from his ministerial portfolio on Friday and while maintaining his innocence, he said that he was resigning from his posts because it is “the right thing to do”. 

Prime Minister Robert Abela publicly urged Fearne to reconsider his decision but he replied that he would be sticking to the decision. 

On Saturday, after emerging from a meeting with his MPs at the Labour Party’s headquarters, Abela said that Fearne would be staying on as the party’s deputy leader and that he enjoyed his “absolute trust”. 

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