The Prime Minister and the Attorney General wrapped up evidence in Adrian Delia’s Vitals court case by presenting a set of documents while declaring that they had no witnesses to summon. 

That declaration was made by State Advocate Chris Soler on Tuesday at a hearing in the proceedings, whereby the former Opposition leader is challenging the controversial 2015 privatisation deal through which the Gozo General Hospital, St Luke’s Hospital and Karin Grech Hospital were taken over by Vitals Global Healthcare.

Steward took over the concession from Vitals in 2018. 

Delia took the relative authorities to court, arguing that the original concessionaire and its successor failed to fulfil contractual obligations on that deal and since important milestones had been missed, the hospitals were to be “given back to the people”.

“One week costs €185,000,” remarked Delia during Tuesday’s hearing, while the parties were mapping out the way forward after Soler declared that the Prime Minister and the Attorney General had presented documentary evidence by means of a note filed in court on May 16.

That evidence consisted of copies of legislation concerning the transfer of government property, authentic copies of relative public deeds, copies of notices published in the Government Gazette as well as property searches of Vitals Global Healthcare. 

There was to be no viva voce evidence, said Soler, effectively wrapping up the evidence stage. 

However, lawyer Edward DeBono, assisting Delia, had one final point to make. 

The lawyer informed the court, presided over by Mr Justice Francesco Depasquale, that a separate court case filed by Steward against the Medical Associates of Northern Virginia Inc. Profit Sharing Plan (MANV) had been withdrawn.

Those proceedings were instituted by Steward in a bid to block the enforcement of a UK judgment ordering it to pay US$6.47 million as part of a settlement agreement whereby MANV claimed the funds for its involvement in the acquisition of the Maltese hospitals concession. 

Steward claimed that MANV’s claims were “tainted” by irregularities and collusion, describing the hospital concession as “fraudulent”.

However in February, when that case came up for hearing, Steward dropped its objections to the UK court ruling, filing a note in court to formally cede the lawsuit against MANV.

DeBono today sought to obtain an explanation from the lawyer representing Steward in the proceedings, asking him to testify to that effect. 

However, lawyer Joseph Camilleri objected to that request, pointing out that he was not Steward’s mandatary and besides, such request was totally inadmissible and unfounded. 

Mr Justice Depasquale observed that a lawyer should never be produced to testify about his client, since he is bound by professional secrecy. 

Moreover, since Steward’s application when instituting the other case against MANV had been presented in the Vitals case, the court could consult such document.

With the evidence definitively wrapped up, the court granted each of the parties two months to file written submissions and adjourned the case to October for final oral submissions. 

Lawyer Nicholas DeBono also assisted the applicant. Lawyers Andrew Cauchi, Joseph Camilleri, John Bonello and Maronia Magri also assisted the respondents. 

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