Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg refused to answer questions about allegations that she colluded with police to spare two Pilatus Bank officials from prosecution.
Buttigieg would not take questions and walked away from reporters after attending a press conference announcing justice reform on Tuesday.
The conference was being addressed by Justice Minister Jonathan Attard, who would not allow reporters to ask her about the Pilatus Bank allegations during question time.
Times of Malta and Newsbook reporters attempted to ask Buttigieg to comment on claims that she was involved in a 'cover-up' in the Pilatus Bank case and about her decision last year to drop attempted homicide charges against Darren Debono, who was one of the suspects in the botched 2010 HSBC heist.
She would not answer the questions and Attard and his aides insisted that all questions should be addressed to the minister.
When reporters approached Buttigieg after the end of the press conference, she would still not take questions and walked away silently out of the building, with the minister claiming that reporters were being disrespectful.
Buttigieg is currently under fire after Repubblika president Robert Aquilina published a 700-page book on Pilatus Bank last week, claiming that she colluded with police not to prosecute top bank officials.
Aquilina published emails in which three police inspectors discussed how they needed “points” to justify the decision by Buttigieg not to prosecute Pilatus Bank’s former risk manager Antoniella Gauci and operations supervisor Mehmet Tasli despite a magisterial inquiry recommending money-laundering charges against them.
Aquilina claims Gauci has close ties with Prime Minister Robert Abela. The book says that Gauci's father and brother were Abela's clients when he was a lawyer and his canvassers in political life.
Aquilina claims that Buttigieg colluded with senior police officers to decide to give Gauci “a get-out-of-jail-free card”.
He said together they decided to issue a declaration, known in legal jargon as a nolle prosequi, to ensure that the authorities will not prosecute her, despite direction from inquiring magistrate Ian Farrugia to arraign her.
The emails also suggested that the police did not have a justification for their request for such a declaration and were scrambling to find reasons to back up their recommendation to the AG.
In one email, police inspector Keith Vella, a former member of the anti-money laundering squad, told fellow police colleagues to “think about a few points related to Antoniella and Tasli’s nolle prosequi”.
The author says the email was clearly intended to find reasons for the police to be able to say they did not have enough evidence at hand to proceed with a prosecution and retrospectively support the decision to request the issuance of a nolle prosequi.
Let the institutions do their job - minister
Minister Attard would not say whether he is concerned over the allegations that the AG colluded with police to avoid charging persons who were tipped for prosecution.
He said what really worries him is that Aquilina first pursued his case in court, only to decide to publish a book midway through the proceedings that he himself opened.
"I would rather let the court proceedings take their course," Attard said.
"Justice must take place in court, not in press conferences, books or blogs. Let's allow the court do its job."