A court has thrown out a request for murder suspects Alfred and George Degiorgio and Vince Muscat to be made parties to a libel case about the botched 2010 HSBC heist.
The court agreed with minister Carmelo Abela that there was no merit to the request by Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi for the trio to be made part of the case.
Abela had sued Azzopardi for libel over a Facebook post claiming he was promised €300,000 to provide criminals with access cards to carry out the heist on HSBC’s Qormi headquarters.
Reacting to the court decision, Azzopardi said he was surprised how Abela had objected to the request and only decided to file for libel against him rather than those who allegedly carried out the heist and implicated him in the robbery.
At the time of the hold-up, Abela had access to key cards of the sort used by the robbers to gain access to sensitive parts of the HSBC headquarters.
“If I were in his shoes, given the gravity of the allegations and the negative light they cast on himself, the government and Malta, I would not have objected to the request, to demonstrate that I have nothing to hide," Azzopardi said.
Azzopardi claimed Abela is scared of the full truth emerging.
“Carmelo Abela knows he is in for trouble if other people involved in the heist testify. He is repeating what Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi used to do, by vanishing once the evidence starts to be heard in court,” Azzopardi said.
Despite the court decree, there is nothing preventing Azzopardi from summoning the Degiorgios and Muscat as witnesses in the libel case.
In April, cabinet rejected pardons for the trio in exchange for testimony about major crimes, including the HSBC case.
The following month, the police notified a court that a fresh investigation had been opened into the claims about Abela.
Police asked for testimony given behind closed doors by Abela about the heist.
Abela claims to not remember ever being called to the witness stand about the robbery.
Further testimony from the HSBC case reviewed by Times of Malta confirms suspicions about the use of internal security cards during the heist.
The cards allowed the robbers to reach the bank’s control room, through which they could have then gained access to the bank’s vaults where the cash was stored.
One employee, a manager who worked within HSBC’s security department, testified that “somehow”, some of these cards were either “copied or cloned”.
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