Konrad Mizzi has, for the fourth time, told parliament's Public Accounts Committee that he will not turn up for questioning on the Electrogas power station contract.
The former energy minister was due to appear before the PAC on Tuesday. But in a Facebook post on Monday, he said he had informed the committee that he and his lawyers would only be available from Wednesday, November 3.
Reacting to the news, the Nationalist Party accused Prime Minister Robert Abela of protecting Mizzi by refusing to vote in favour of a motion to force the former minister to testify.
The committee wants to question Mizzi on the basis of a report by the auditor-general which found irregularities in the deal.
Mizzi turned down the first two summons by the PAC, calling its investigation a "partisan attack" on a project that has brought “many benefits" to the country. He insisted that as an MP he was within his rights to turn down the summons.
The Opposition had then sought a vote by the whole House to force Mizzi to appear, but before it could do so, Mizzi had said he would turn up. The meeting was due last Wednesday, but he again did not show up, saying his lawyer had not had sufficient time to prepare.
Mizzi is an independent MP, having been dismissed from the Labour parliamentary group in June due to his ties to the Panama Papers and Yorgen Fenech's company 17 Black.
Labour in cahoots with Mizzi
PAC chairman Beppe Fenech Adami said if the government had accepted the PN’s motion, Mizzi would have been ordered to immediately appear before the committee.
“We had a way to force him to attend the committee, but instead that day government representatives said there was no need for a vote, as Mizzi had promised to attend,” Fenech Adami said.
He accused the Labour Party of plotting with the former minister on how to avoid his testimony.
Fenech Adami said the easiest way to find out the whole truth about the Electrogas project would be to vote in favour of the motion forcing Mizzi to testify.
Fellow PAC committee member Karol Aquilina questioned how much Mizzi had pocketed from the project.
A leaked e-mail from the Panama Papers indicated plans for Mizzi to receive millions from 17 Black, a company owned by Yorgen Fenech.
Cassola wants investigation for contempt of the House
Following Mizzi's latest announcement, independent election candidate Arnold Cassola said he had written to the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, asking him to investigate the former minister for contempt of parliament.
He said Mizzi's behaviour also amounted to an insult to the House and the Maltese people.
Mizzi 'should grow a spine' - Repubblika
The rule of law group Repubblika said Mizzi should stop insulting the Maltese people and parliament should show itself some respect in view of his arrogance.
It said Mizzi should grow a spine, appear before the committee and explain his actions as minister.
The group said it also expected the police commissioner to do his duty and arraign all politicians involved in robbing the people through corruption.
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