Updated 6.05pm - Added John Dalli's reply
Attorney General Peter Grech has refused to confirm he gave the police advice to press ahead with charges against former European commissioner John Dalli.
Dr Grech was asked to confirm that, in December 2012, he had given the green light to the police to prosecute Mr Dalli on trading in influence and bribery.
This followed a thorough investigation by the police in both Malta and Brussels.
He was also asked whether he had changed his opinion since his written advice and to say why Mr Dalli had not yet been arraigned as he had agreed to.
“No replies can be given as this was a matter of professional secrecy,” he replied.
The questions were sent to Dr Grech after former police commissioner John Rizzo said in an interview to a Maltese-language newspaper that “Dr Grech had agreed and gave his consent to the police to arraign Mr Dalli and charge him with criminal offences”.
Mr Rizzo, who was removed as police commissioner soon after the change in government in 2013, made a similar statement when he appeared before a parliamentary committee in 2014.
What he said confirmed by another investigator in the case, former police inspector Angelo Gafà, who told Parliament’s Privileges Committee solid evidence had been unearthed on grounds of which Mr Dalli could be charged in court.
He also confirmed that the Attorney General had held two meetings with the police, including with the police commissioner, and agreed that Mr Dalli should face criminal charges.
Following his resignation from the European Commission in 2012, after the European Union’s anti-fraud office – Olaf – carried out an investigation finding circumstantial evidence that Mr Dalli was involved in trading in influence and attempted corruption over a tobacco directive, the police in Malta started looking into the case.
According to Mr Rizzo, the investigation concluded Mr Dalli and his canvasser, Silvio Zammit, should face charges on trading in influence and bribery. Mr Zammit was eventually arraigned and the case is still pending.
After interrogating Mr Dalli in December 2012, the police were unable to proceed with his arraignment because he remained in Brussels and Germany for a number of weeks declaring he was unfit to travel due to a medical condition.
He returned after Labour was returned to power in 2013 elections and Mr Rizzo was removed from his post by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat shortly after. Though, to date, Mr Dalli was never arraigned, all police commissioners after Mr Rizzo said his case still open.
Mr Dalli has always maintained his innocence and claims he was the victim of a plot by the tobacco industry and the European Commission to get him out of the way.
'Kessler is hiding, not me' - Dalli
In a reply, Mr Dalli said that it was a known fact that in December 2012 the office of (then) Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi was pressuring police to take action against him "at all costs".
"I presume that this pressure was being exerted by Kessler and Barroso who were under pressure by the media (not the Maltese media) and the European Parliament to explain what happened," he said.
He added that Mr Rizzo had advised Johan Gabrielsson, who Mr Dalli described as "the main operator" in a setup against him, to "continue to lie about a meeting that never took place" with the intention of ensuring the investigation in Malta would not be disrupted.
Mr Dalli reiterated his belief that Mr Kessler was out to get him and said that the EU Commission had repeatedly rebuffed Belgian police requests to lift Mr Kessler's immunity as part of an investigation into defamation against Mr Dalli.
"For me, this is an admission of guilt," Mr Dalli wrote, saying that the investigation ended with [snuss manufacturers] Swedish Match, Mr Kessler and others arraigned in Brussels.
"It is Giovanni Kessler who has been arraigned and is investigated for criminal acts," Mr Dalli concluded. "It is Giovanni Kessler who is hiding behind immunity not to allow scrutiny of his actions."