Updated Wednesday 9.13am with Labour Party reaction - Simon Busuttil, the government and the Labour Party have reacted after a court turned down a request by the former Opposition leader to have a magisterial inquiry opened into the key protagonists of the Panama Papers revelations. The Criminal Court said that Dr Busuttil had failed to indicate sufficiently that any crime had been committed.
In July 2017, Dr Busuttil had asked for a magisterial inquiry to be opened into the allegations. Magistrate Ian Farrugia had eventually found that there was enough reason to justify an inquiry, but appeals had been immediately filed against that decision by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, OPM chief of Staff Keith Schembri, Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna and Karl Cini, and businessmen Malcolm Scerri and Adrian Hillman.
Mr Justice Grixti said in his judgment, issued on Tuesday, that Dr Busuttil had given a number of facts which in themselves did not indicate any wrongdoing, such as the Prime Minister going to Azerbaijan on a solo trip, the police commissioner and the head of the FIAU resigning, and Nexia BT getting rid of considerable amounts of documents.
He stressed there was a considerable leap between these facts and money laundering, and that the accusations were merely Dr Busuttil's opinion - something that he was free to have - as long as he did not them extrapolate them to a crime.
Dr Busuttil, the judge said, ought to have provided details of layering to prove money laundering.
He therefore overruled Dr Farrugia's decision and said an investigation was not justified.
In a statement, the Office of the Prime Minister highlighted the judge's remarks that Dr Busuttil had not substantiated his claims and that they therefore "qualified as speculation in the absence of further evidence".
"After the Egrant inquiry, this has also completely exonerated the Prime Minister and others," the OPM said in a statement.
Unbelievable. How can a Court refuse to open an inquiry when Mizzi and Schembri were caught RED-HANDED with a secret Panama company to pocket €5,000 a day? This cannot be right. Where can we go for justice to be served in #Malta? @VeraJourova https://t.co/BZ1L4S9OS2— Simon Busuttil (@SimonBusuttil) January 8, 2019
Reacting in a tweet, Dr Busuttil asked how could a court refuse to open an inquiry when Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri were caught red-handed with a secret Panama company to pocket €5,000 a day.
In a reaction to Dr Busuttil's comments, the Labour Party described the former Opposition leader as arrogant and said that somebody who professed to believe in the rule of law was now hitting out at the court, effectively acting as judge and jury.