Dubai authorities speaking to PN MEP David Casa had assured him that they wanted to cooperate with Maltese authorities investigating 17 Black and its links to local political figures, contradicting former Economic Crimes chief Ian Abdilla.
The MEP was testifying on Friday in the public inquiry into the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination, supplementing a dossier he had previously handed over to the board, compiling documents concerning 17 Black and its links to former minister Konrad Mizzi and former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri.
Casa explained how, after hearing from Maltese authorities that the United Arab Emirates were not cooperating in investigations, he had spoken to the Attorney General and the FIAU in Dubai, as well as Noor Bank, the seat of 17 Black, and other high-ranking authorities to gauge the situation.
After garnering consensus within the European Parliament to blacklist those countries which withheld such information, Casa had been summoned by the Attorney General in Dubai.
Correspondence sent to Maltese authorities was made available to the MEP, showing that the UAE authorities had requested further information since the request sent by the Maltese authorities was incomplete.
That correspondence appeared to contradict the version supplied by Abdilla who had told the board that the unit had not received “an acknowledgement” from Dubai.
Economic Crimes inspector Antonovitch Muscat had likewise testified about “zero cooperation” by Dubai authorities.
Those letters, forwarded to the Maltese Attorney General by Casa, evidently contradicted Abdilla’s version.
“The ambassador assured me that they were willing to cooperate because they did not want to be made out as accomplices in the murder of a journalist. Far from not getting an acknowledgement. And I choose to believe the ambassador rather than Ian Abdilla,” Casa said.
The FIAU report
The MEP also made reference to an FIAU report handed to him in 2017.
“When I received that report I wished to publish at once but I had to be careful. So I opted to take that report to court. No matter what happened to me, I couldn’t keep that report hidden away,” said Casa, explaining how certain politicians, including Minister Edward Scicluna, had tried to discredit the document saying that “it had been written purposely to be leaked”.
After speaking out vociferously about 17 Black, the MEP had faced a barrage of personal threats, insults in public and on Facebook, and had to file police reports and take court action.
“Even today I cannot drive my own car, cannot go anywhere alone. Not even to church. Even yesterday, walking in Republic Street, people stopped to insult me. People are influenced by a certain section of media and even by other politicians. That’s why Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed,” he said.
Casa recalled how he had been threatened with legal action for damages by lawyers assisting Keith Schembri, while being accused of forming part of a gang that organised a frame up on Pilatus Bank.
In a statement later, lawyers Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo, who were among the lawyers assisting Schembri, said they had no direct or indirect contact with Casa.
“I asked for police protection several times but, to date, I have not even received an acknowledgement,” he said, saying that once, the police commissioner had offered to close down the Gżira police station to assign an officer to protect the MEP.
Casa said he did not accept that offer.
Re-election bribes allegations
Asked by the board chairman, Judge Michael Mallia, about allegations that the PN had been offered money to prevent his re-election to the European Parliament, the MEP said he had sensed during the last election campaign that he had not received the same coverage by the party as before.
Even though he was then head of the party’s MEP delegation, he had not sensed the same “push”, adding that the party had evidently been pushing “someone else”.
After his success at the polls, Casa had been replaced as head of delegation by party leader Adrian Delia.
“Obviously I was a thorn in the side of Yorgen Fenech because I was speaking out against 17 Black,” Casa said.
He praised the work of his “friend” Daphne Caruana Galizia, describing her as “one of the finest journalists in Europe,” who had been “left all alone” before the last general election, even by the PN.
Casa criticised the government for having done nothing following the publication of that FIAU report, adding that it was only after the arrest of Pilatus Bank chairman Ali Sadr in the USA that local authorities “had budged”.
“One of the things that bothers me most is when I’m labelled a traitor for speaking out in the EU parliament,” stating that Malta had witnessed “blatant money laundering”, with Nexia BT being a “machine for this”.
Yet, to date, that company was still operating and his letter to the Accountancy Board went unanswered, Casa said.
“Even this public inquiry was met with much resistance by government to prevent it from happening,” the witness went on.
‘All is not right in our country’
Casa affirmed that “all was not yet right in our country,” insisting that he would not stop until the truth was out.
When speaking in EU fora about irregularities in other member states, he is repeatedly faced with remarks such as, “see what’s happening in your own country. No journalist was murdered in our country,” lamenting the sense of impunity bred through such lack of effective action.
Under cross-examination by parte civile lawyer Jason Azzopardi, Casa confirmed that, to date, the police had never spoken to him about the FIAU report.
The inquiry continues on August 12.
Lawyers Therese Comodini Cachia also appeared parte civile.