There are sufficient grounds for former John Dalli canvasser Silvio Zammit to be sent to trial, a magistrate ruled on Thursday.
The former aide and canvasser to European Commissioner John Dalli stands accused of seeking two bribes, including a €60 million bribe from a Swedish snus tobacco producer in order to influence changes to an EU tobacco directive while Mr Dalli was EU Health Commissioner.
A key witness in the compilation of evidence against Mr Zammit, Inge Delfosse, had refused to travel to Malta to testify, fearing that she risked incriminating herself by doing so.
The prosecution’s insistence on having this witness testify, in spite of her persistent refusal, had prompted a constitutional application by Mr Zammit's defence team arguing that this stalemate constituted a breach to their client’s fundamental right to a fair hearing.
The First Hall, Civil Court had upheld the claim stating that Mr Zammit’s rights had indeed been breached and that such breach would subsist unless the prosecution obtained Ms Delfosse’s deposition as soon as possible or else declare that it had no further evidence to produce.
When the criminal proceedings were set to continue on Thursday, defence lawyer Edward Gatt insisted that the court was to take a stand after the AG requested a further five days to decide whether to summon more witnesses.
“The AG either isn’t understanding or doesn’t want to understand. The issue of vital importance concerns what the AG intends to do in respect of the constitutional judgment which states that he is breaching Mr Zammit’s rights with every day that passes.”
“Everyone is not giving a damn. What does the AG want to do?!” remarked the lawyer.
“The ball is in your court. You cannot allow the AG to continue to treat us this way,” Dr Gatt insisted, addressing presiding magistrate Astrid May Grima.
After retiring to chambers, the magistrate returned a few minutes later, pronouncing a prima facie decree which meant that there was sufficient evidence for Mr Zammit to be placed under a bill of indictment.
The case continues on November 15.
Lawyers Edward Gatt and Kris Busietta were defence counsel.