A former contracts manager who has alleged bribery by former Sliema Mayor Nikki Dimech told a court today that he was asked once by Mr Dimech to pay a commission, and whether it would be 5% or 10% of the contract value.

Stephen Buhagiar was being cross-examined during the trial of Mr Dimech, who is alleged to have solicited a bribe.

The first to give evidence under cross-examination this morning was Police Inspector Angelo Gafa, who repeatedly denied that he ever told Mr Dimech that his political career was finished or that he was going to make a show trial of him, as alleged by Mr Dimech in the media. 

Questioned on why he had arraigned Mr Dimech under arrest, the inspector said that was not the procedure he normally followed, but in this case he was following superior orders after Mr Dimech made serious allegations against him and the police which were deemed to warrant arrest.

He had called the duty Magistrate to explain the situation, and also explained that his superiors did not wish to keep Mr Dimech at the police lock-up overnight. The Magistrate therefore told him that the arraignment would take place in the evening.

Mr Dimech's comments to the newspapers amounted to hindering police investigations, the inspector said.

He said that Mr Dimech used to send him very long e-mails and in one of them he warned him that he would hold him personally responsible for what was happening.

At one point, he said, Mr Dimech had also mentioned two people who were allegedly involved in football corruption.

The defence asked the inspector to identify these persons.

This evidence was given behind closed doors. 

Insp Gafa also denied that he was handling all police investigations into Mr Dimech, pointing out that some of the investigations were headed by the Drug Squad.

Later in the sitting, contracts manager Stephen Buhagiar, who is making the allegations against Mr Dimech, said that after he was awarded his contract by Sliema Council he was called for a meeting, and Mr Dimech asked him how much he would pay him as commission and whether it would be 5% or 10% of the contract value.

Mr Buhagiar said that it was only after his contract was terminated that he decided to speak out about this matter. He had not given too much weight to Mr Dimech's request during the six months he worked for the council and he was not asked for such payment again.

After his agreement was terminated, the contract was given to Philip Chircop, who was second in the tendering process. 

He had spoken to PN General Secretary Paul Borg Olivier, the Parliamentary Secretary for Local Councils, Chris Said and the then Director of Local Councils, Martin Bugelli, because he felt his contract was terminated because he never actually paid a commission.

The decision to drop the contract was taken during a vote in the council.

Mr Buhagiar said he did not know if Mr Chircop was ever asked to pay a commission. 

The case continues.

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