The leader of the Nationalist party has filed a judicial protest against his own party colleague over election bribe claims.

Adrian Delia says that party spokesperson on justice Jason Azzopardi is spreading “defamatory and false allegations” about him through text messages. 

It comes on the eve of a crucial vote by the PN general council on whether to back Delia or opt for a leadership race.

The embattled leader faces allegations that he accepted a bribe from Yorgen Fenech – the man accused of conspiring to kill journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia – to stop David Casa from being re-elected in the European Parliament.  

Last month, Times of Malta revealed text messages between Delia and Fenech that showed they were communicating after the businessman was revealed to be the owner of controversial secret company 17 Black.

In the judicial protest, filed on Friday, Delia includes what he claims is a text message from Azzopardi.

It states: “Of course it is! And you have no idea of the hundreds of other messages in the mobile of Fenech in 2019 relating to the payment to Delia of €50,000 and pledge of €100,000 more if Casa was not elected. You have NO idea what I’ve been holding up inside me since January. Know once and for all that the man is a pathological liar”.

Delia asks why Azzopardi did not take the information to police in January and claimed the MP was doing his utmost to tarnish his reputation, resorting to lies, threats and manoeuvres to sway the vote in his favour.

Delia lost two confidence votes in recent weeks – firstly in the PN’s parliamentary group and secondly in its executive council. 

He said he deplored Azzopardi’s alleged tactics and said that while the MP preached about rule of law, this was a fraudulent attempt to sway the vote, rather than allow voters to cast their choice serenely. 

Challenges to resign

Azzopardi posted a long response on his Facebook page, making a series of challenges and posing questions to Delia about his relationship with Fenech. 

He challenged him to resign if there was evidence on Fenech’s mobile phone and said he would resign if there was not. 

Azzopardi said Delia had already been “caught out lying” when he said he had not communicated with Fenech after it became known he was the owner of the company 17 Black. 

He said Delia, when challenged about this in both the parliamentary group and executive council meetings, “never answered yes or no”.

“I am ready to invite Dr Delia to accept this challenge: if it turns out that there is forensic evidence in Yorgen Fenech’s mobile phone of communication and/or meetings between him and Yorgen Fenech in 2019, he resigns as an MP. If the contents of the phone do not show this evidence, I will resign.” 

He said he had the truth on his side. 

Lawyer Andre Portelli signed the judicial protest. 

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