Former minister Konrad Mizzi will not be attending Wednesday’s Public Accounts Committee meeting on the Electrogas project, saying his lawyer cannot make it.

Mizzi was due to appear before the PAC at 2pm on Wednesday. 

But writing on Facebook just over an hour before that scheduled testimony, Mizzi said he had the right to be assisted by a lawyer during the hearing but his lawyer could not attend at such short notice.

He said he will appear before the committee on a date and time when all parties can make it, including his lawyer.

“I will not stand for this arrogance. It is my right to be assisted by a lawyer of my confidence at the committee meeting and this cannot happen today as the lawyer is not available due to short notice,” Mizzi wrote on Facebook.

The committee is investigating the power station deal awarded to the Electrogas consortium. 

Mizzi reiterated that the exercise is nothing more than “a partisan exercise” on the project which shifted energy generation in Malta from polluting heavy fuel oil to cleaner gas and renewable energy.   

Addressing PAC chairman and Opposition MP Beppe Fenech Adami, Mizzi wrote: 

“Dear Beppe, rest assured I will attend a committee hearing, on a day convenient to all parties. I will not allow you to make this committee a partisan political exercise in order to obscure the work of the Labour Government and obscure the benefits that this project has given, including the reduction of electricity and water bills, the reduction in air emissions and the closure of the power station,” he wrote.

The post included a photograph of a man and a child along with a note that reads: “8 years of cheaper electricity bills”.

Twice summoned

A protagonist in the Electrogas project, Mizzi was summoned to appear twice before a parliamentary committee that is scrutinising the contract.

On the first occasion, Beppe Fenech Adami, insisted it was his "duty" to answer questions, describing Mizzi as a "coward" and "chicken" for not attending the committee. The committee voted to summon him again to appear before it.

However, he again refused the invitation, invoking his right not to appear before the committee as guaranteed by the committee’s rules.

The rules say that: “Members of the House, including ministers, may refuse to appear as witnesses and thus may not be formally summoned to attend as witnesses before the Committee. The House shall be informed of such a refusal.”

On Tuesday, the Opposition tabled a motion in parliament calling for a vote to summon Mizzi to appear before the committee. Within hours, the now independent MP said on Facebook he would be attending. 

Mizzi served as a Labour MP and minister until he was kicked out of the party following corruption allegations. He helped craft the energy policy that helped the party rise into government and piloted the Electrogas power station project. 

He was energy minister when Electrogas was awarded the power station tender. Later, the Panama Papers revealed that he and the former prime minister's chief of staff, Keith Schembri had both opened offshore companies. 

Then in 2017, it transpired that the companies were linked to a third one, 17 Black, owned by Electrogas shareholder and businessman Yorgen Fenech, who is accused of conspiring to murder journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Last year Mizzi was expelled from the Labour Party's parliamentary group after Times of Malta revealed his involvement in the Montenegro windfarm scandal. 

It showed how public money was used to funnel €4.6 million to 17 Black, set up to pay money into Mizzi's Panama-based company.

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