An agreement with insurers over compensation already paid by the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation to victims of a 2015 car show incident has still to be reached, the Times of Malta learned.
The Office of the President announced on Saturday “the compensation sum is being paid by the insurance company that covered the event and the government”.
However, enquiries by Times of Malta indicate that Mapfre Middle Sea Insurance has not yet formalised an agreement with the insured parties, including the MCCFF, to pay part (€1.8 million) of the damages already disbursed.
In October 2015, 23 people were injured, some of them seriously, when a super car driven at high speed veered off a Ħal Far track and crashed into spectators at the Paqpaqli għall-Istrina charity event, organised to raise funds for the Community Chest Fund. Some of those injured are still undergoing treatment today.
The money paid to 11 of the 23 victims injured in the event, about €3.5 million but could be more, so far came entirely from MCCFF funds, sources said.
The Times of Malta asked both the Office of the President and the Office of the Prime Minister whether money raised in aid of charity was used to settle compensation and which budget allocation had the government resorted to pay its share of the compensation bill. However, no replies were forthcoming.
A spokesman for the President only said that pending court proceedings could risk being prejudiced by further discussion in the media. “Therefore, it is both inappropriate and unethical for such a discussion to take place,” he added.
A Mapfre Middle Sea Insurance spokeswoman refused to give details, saying “the information requested includes confidentiality obligations precluding us from disclosing any customer-related information”.
The sources said that according to a draft agreement drawn up by the lawyers of the President’s Office – BT Advocates – the 16 insured individuals, among them President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca both personally and as head of the MCCFF, Paul Bailey, facing charges of causing the accident, and members of the organising team, including members of the President’s staff, would sign a contract allowing Mapfre Middle Sea to release €1.8 million.
The insured parties lawyers are known to have advised their clients of legal loopholes that could expose them to other legal actions. This could be one of the reasons why the contract had not yet been signed, the sources noted.
In exchange for compensation, the agreement proposes to bind the 11 claimants, who last year filed judicial letters and law suits against the MCCFF and the Office of the President, to drop any further legal action.
Sources close to some of the insured said it was still not exactly clear what was going on. “We learned about this compensation from The Sunday Times of Malta, [while] at the same time we are being told by the Office of the President to sign the agreement. This is quite a complicated legal matter,” they said.
The President and members of her staff have always denied responsibility for the accident, even insisting in court it was a “third party event” rather than one organised by the MCCF directly.
Earlier this year, two members of the MCCFF’s governing board testified that meetings were held at San Anton Palace prior to their appearing in court.
The civil cases being heard by Mr Justice Wenzu Mintoff are scheduled to continue later this month, though it is not yet known what will actually happen in view of the compensation settlement.
Even if civil court cases are withdrawn, criminal proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court against members of the organising committee and Mr Bailey will continue.
An inquiry headed by Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera, then magistrate, had exonerated the President from any criminal responsibility.
CommentsComments powered by Disqus
Do not have an account?Sign Up