Prosecutors' insistence on a key witness testifying in a bribery case against a former John Dalli canvasser breached his right to a fair trial, a court has ruled.
Silvio Zammit faces charges related to an alleged €60 million bribe request to a Swedish snus tobacco producer in exchange for influencing 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.
Ms Delfosse had allegedly spoken to Mr Zammit about the possibility of a meeting with Mr Dalli in the hope of securing changes to the proposed tobacco directive. She was secretary general of the European Smokeless Tobacco Council at the time.
Lawyers for Mr Zammit had raised concerns about Ms Delfosse’s refusal to testify before magistrate Anthony Vella, who is presiding over the compilation of evidence, prompting the magistrate to make a constitutional reference two years ago.
On account of this failure to produce Ms Delfosse as witness, the prosecution could not bring the curtain down on the compilation so that the case might proceed to trial, which meant that Mr Zammit’s right to a fair hearing had been breached.
This claim was upheld by the First Hall, Civil Court, in its constitutional jurisdiction, declaring 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.
Madam Justice Anna Felice, presiding over the court, referred the case back to the Magistrates’ Court entrusting that Court to regulate proceedings accordingly.
Lawyers Edward Gatt and Kris Busietta were counsel for the defence.
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