A St George’s Bay resident is taking judicial action to ensure the land deal with the Corinthia Group would not be in breach of the law.
Ivan Mifsud made the request in a judicial protest against Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi.
He referred to the Civil Code, which laid down that the seashore and the seabed were property in the public domain. Though the law did allow for the possibility of administrative permits being issued to build on land considered to be public domain, this should only be allowed if such building was consistent with the nature of the land in question, he said.
“The law on public domain does not permit the government to give parts of the seashore or the seabed to private commercial entities so that it buries, destroys and builds with the intention to advance its commercial interests,” Dr Mifsud argued in the protest.
He noted that the government could not grant unlimited rights to the Corinthia Group to reclaim the seabed around the peninsula it occupied at St George’s Bay.
As a Maltese citizen residing in the area, he said he wanted to ask the Prime Minister and the Tourism Minister to make sure laws were not broken and that the interests of the public were safeguarded.
Dr Mifsud is willing to take the matter as far as necessary
Lawyer Natalino Caruana de Brincat, who signed the judicial protest, told this newspaper his client was acting alone and that his move was not motivated by the action of any particular party or group. Dr Mifsud was willing to take the matter as far as necessary, the lawyer pointed out, adding he would not rule out any further legal action being taken in the future.
The Sunday Times of Malta reported last month Corinthia would be given a concession to build 100,000 square metres of commercial and residential real estate and offices, including towers. It also said that, apart from the St George’s Bay peninsula being awarded to Corinthia for at least 99 years at a fraction of the prevailing market prices, the government had conceded to allow the developer to reclaim the seabed around the entire peninsula.
The Times of Malta reported a few days ago that talks with Corinthia reopened after it received legal advice the proposed deal could be in breach of EU State aid rules, though the government denied it had received such advice.
According to a draft deed, still unpublished, Corinthia will pay a premium of €17 million for the land occupying most of the peninsula. Payments will be made over a number of years according to how much real estate was built and sold. On the basis of this agreement, the hotel chain would pay about €4 million in the first three years from the signing of the deed.
Both the Nationalist Party and the Democratic Party said they would vote against the deal when it was presented in Parliament.