A Transport Malta driving examiner told court he was repeatedly pressured by his superior to give particular candidates “an easy test” to make sure they passed.

Some of these select candidates were so bad at driving that the examiner - Duncan Azzopardi - would have to drive back to base as they were a "danger to the public”.

Azzopardi was testifying about the instructions he regularly received from his former director Clint Mansueto who is currently facing criminal charges over his alleged involvement in a driving tests racket.

When the select candidates failed the test, Mansueto "wouldn’t be too pleased,” recalled Azzopardi.

Mansueto stands accused - alongside his former subalterns at TM, Raul Antonio Pace and Philip Edrick Zammit - of corruption linked to the alleged racket in which particular candidates flagged by “some ministry or Castille” were helped to secure their driving licence.

All three are pleading not guilty.

Since proceedings started almost a year ago, several driving examiners have testified about how they were pressured into helping specific candidates during theory and practical tests.

When assigning the day’s lists to each examiner, Mansueto would point out the specific candidates who were to be “taken care of”, usually adding that some government ministry or private individual had sought help.

Having completed his training as an examiner when he joined TM in March 2021, he was immediately “approached so as to pass certain people”, the witness said during the compilation of evidence.

“I was asked to give them an easy test or choose an easy route so that they would pass the exam.”

Asked by the prosecution to name the person who had issued those instructions, the witness replied “Clint Mansueto.”

He then went on to explain how the director would call him into his office and single out particular people on the driving test list: “for example, he’d tell me ‘the 9am one’.”

This used to happen quite frequently and sometimes there were even two such select candidates in a day.

That was until the examiner decided not to go along with Mansueto’s instructions, telling him straight that he did not feel comfortable working under such pressure.

So Azzopardi began to ignore such instructions and set those select candidates a test like all the rest, if necessary failing them too.

There were a couple of times when Mansueto was away. On those occasions, Pace would hand out the test papers, passing on any instructions about specific candidates.

“Mansueto told you 'the one at 9am', he’d tell me for instance,” recalled the examiner.

And when any such specific candidate would not make it through the test, the director would not be pleased at all: "for example, if I went back telling him that the candidate failed at the Floriana roundabout, he’d ask ‘why ever did you go there?’"

Some candidates were so bad that the examiner would have to drive back to base as they were a "danger to the public”.

Asked whether Mansueto gave a reason for seeking help for specific candidates, the examiner replied in the negative.

“Although he did frequently say 'it’s from the ministry' [kienet f’ħalqu ħafna ‘għax mill-ministeru']," he added.

“Which ministry,” asked the prosecution.

“I don’t know. He didn’t say,” replied Azzopardi.

Another witness - TM official Alan Borg - presented information about a whole list of names found in diaries seized by investigators from the accused’s possession.

Those diaries included names of test candidates in 2020 and 2021. Information was supplied about the vehicle category they were tested for as well as whether they had passed or failed.

The case, presided by Magistrate Rachel Montebello, continues.

AG lawyer Abigail Caruana Vella and Inspector Wayne Borg prosecuted.

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Jacob Magri are counsel to Mansueto.

Lawyer Joe Giglio is counsel to Pace.

Lawyer Herman Mula is counsel to Zammit.

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