Updated at 6.20pm
Silvio Zammit, former minister John Dalli’s aide who was embroiled in the snus scandal has died. He was 57.
The Sliema council broke the news of the death of its former deputy mayor and popular restaurateur on Facebook.
An alleged €60 million bribe by Zammit to help influence EU tobacco legislation in 2012 had led to Dalli's resignation as EU Health Commissioner.
Zammit was suspected of complicity in the attempted bribe from snus manufacturer Swedish Match and the European Smokeless Tobacco Council, a lobby group, to help lift a ban on the chewable tobacco.
A four-month investigation by the EU’s anti-fraud unit led to Dalli's resignation on grounds that there was enough circumstantial evidence that the Maltese commissioner was aware of Zammit’s offer to Estoc, the European smokeless tobacco lobby.
Zammit was charged in court in December 2012 but the case has been mired in delays.
In October 2020, a court reconfirmed that Zammit’s human rights were being breached because prosecutors refused to declare evidence closed.
He had already obtained a similar ruling in 2018, but the attorney general ignored the court’s decision and Zammit failed to attend some sittings as he was sick.
Only last Tuesday, Dalli pleaded not guilty when he was accused in court of trading in influence and attempted bribery over Zammit's alleged bribe which led to his humiliating exit from the Commission.
'No chance of justice'
It is unclear what impact, if any, Zammit’s death will have on the prosecution against Dalli.
Zammit’s own case however dies with him. Years of delays and legal wrangling means a court never got to pronounce itself on his guilt or innocence.
Edward Gatt, one of Zammit’s former lawyers, lamented on Friday during an unrelated court sitting how his client had died with no chance of getting justice.