The court heard constitutional proceedings filed by the Opposition leader, who is challenging the Attorney General's decision to deny him a full copy of the Egrant inquiry.
Highlights from Friday's case:
- Justice Minister says he did not discuss Egrant inquiry report with anyone;
- Insists the Attorney General is autonomous;
- Prime Minister says only three people have access to the inquiry: Lawyer Pawlu Lia, the Justice Minister and Kurt Farrugia.
- Muscat says Egrant 'lies' sparked instability and that's why he called general election;
- Opposition leader's lawyer objected to the presence of Pawlu Lia, the prime minister's personal lawyer, in the courtroom.
11.22am: Adrian Delia gives his first reactions to the testimonies:
11am: The case has been adjourned to November 26.
10.55am: The court gives the applicant (Adrian Delia) 10 days to indicate by means of a note the witnesses he plans to summon for the next sitting and to notify the respondent. The court will then decide whether to uphold the request for indicated witnesses.
10.52am: And with that final crossfire, the minister steps off the witness stand and walks out of the court room.
10.45am: Lawyer: "Did you hand a copy to anyone else?"
Minister: "No, but I know that Kurt Farrugia had a copy."
Lawyer: "Did you see the inquiry report?
Minister: "Yes, 1,500 pages. Dr Lia is reading it too."
Lawyer: "Are you working together?"
People in the street were shocked about falsified signatures. Many spoke to me. Obviously I spoke to people about what was in the public domain- Owen Bonnici
Lawyer: Did you discuss this, even parts of the report with anyone, other ministers?
Minister: "No. People in the street were shocked about falsified signatures. Many spoke to me. Obviously I spoke to people about what was in the public domain."
Lawyer: "And (head of OPM communications) Kurt Farrugia?"
Minister: "Obviously I spoke to him. My interest lies in safeguarding third parties, perhaps a foreigner, holder of a bank account totally unrelated to the issue, who might be laid bare in public."
Dr Bonnici insists that no members of government or the Labour Party asked for copies.
He adds that were he not acting as a lawyer, he would not have testified.
10.44am: He says the inquiry was so serious that he asked for a soft copy. "I had a hard copy from Dr Lia but I also asked AG for soft copy," Dr Bonnici tells the court.
No conditions were set, but the AG had made it very clear from the start that the report was not to be published and had made that position public.
10.35am: Asked when was the first time he told the AG that he was assisting the Prime Minister, Dr Bonnici says he got involved when Dr Muscat and the AG had conflicting views over the inquiry's publication.
"I didn't advise him as to whether to file civil proceedings against those who said this obnoxious lie about the PM and his family."
"We had someone who sat down, falsified signatures to make up this lie and to break up a family," Dr Bonnici says.
He said he assisted the prime minister when he was asked questions by journalists to make sure that whatever he said did not hinder the investigations.
10.33am: The minister insists the AG is autonomous even when acting as consultant to the government. When questioned, Dr Bonnici says he had no role whatsoever in the inquiry before it was completed.
He says he was called by the AG on July 21 that the report was ready and that he was to issue a public statement. The report had reached AG on Friday evening.
Dr Galea weighs in: "A while ago, you said that AG is autonomous. Why did he have to call you then?"
Minister interjects: "I received a phone call, saying 'minister the Egrant inquiry is at my office and I’m going to inform the public'".
Dr Lia then gave him a printed copy of the report.
He says that the Attorney General was against publication from the very start, and he gave "valid reasons" for this.
10.21am: Owen Bonnici makes it clear - that even though the Attorney General falls under his responsibility, the AG Office is independent, as dictated by the Constitution.
"How is he independent? When the office falls under political responsibility of the minister," Dr Galea says.
The AG had a security of tenure, unlike a minister, Dr Bonnici explains. He may only be removed by a two-thirds majority vote in parliament.
10.17am: Prime Minister leaves the court room. Justice Minister takes the witness stand.
10.16am: Dr Galea hits back and says that until July 21 the Prime Minister was of the opinion that the report should be published in full. Now his position has changed.
But Dr Muscat says this was not the case. "My position has been qualified. Details of third parties who are not involved should not be revealed."
He said a number of people advised him not to publish the inquiry in full and faced with this "one has to forget one’s pride".
10.10am: Dr Muscat says the conclusions were penned by the magistrate himself... and when he saw these conclusions he realised they were "waterproof".
"Since I had made a political pledge I went along with it. But I also had to follow advice not to publish fully so as not to hinder investigations and possibly lead to the discovery of the mastermind behind all this... so that the culprit will not get away scot-free."
10.08am: The Prime Minister weighs in and states that the most serious allegations had been levelled against him and his wife - and this led to great political and economic instability in the country.
"It prompted me to call a general election. It was orchestrated, there were protests on the streets."
10.05am: "The conclusions published gave you peace of mind," Dr Vincent Galea (Dr Delia's lawyer) asks... but he is stopped midway by objections from the other side.
10am: The AG intervenes after the judge asks whether any conditions were set and had reached the Prime Minister on the inquiry's publication.
9.55am: Asked if the AG personally gave him instructions not to publish, the Prime Minister replies: "He gave a copy to my personal lawyer and advice to executive was given to the Justice Minister."
9.52am: He insists only three people have access to the inquiry: Pawlu Lia, the Justice Minister and Kurt Farrugia.
"I believe the report should be redacted first."
He says that the Justice Minister had on the day told him that the AG did not agree with full disclosure of the inquiry.
9.51am: "Ironically I’m the one being asked questions when me and my wife are the victims," Dr Muscat tells the court.
"That aside, I have not seen the inquiry in full. I'm still disappointed and angry about it.
"There are persons, private individuals sharing names with me and my wife who should not be mentioned in public. That's one of reasons the AG objected to its publication in entirety. Moreover, it may hinder police investigations."
That aside, I have not seen the inquiry in full. I'm still disappointed and angry about it
9.48am: Prime Minister says he was not following the advice of AG on that matter. So he turned to Justice Minister and head of communications Kurt Farrugia to see when and how the outcome of report would be published.
Asked by the Opposition leader's lawyer if he handed them a copy, Dr Muscat replies:
"The minister had got it from AG. I gave Kurt Farrugia my copy."
9.45am: Muscat says when he saw the conclusions part of the report, they left no doubt. He says he needed to prepare for a statement that the people rightly expected, so he sought advice from his personal lawyer and the Justice Minister.
"I wanted to be sure that I would not prejudice any eventual issue by what I would state."
9.42am: Prime Minister says he received a hard copy of the inquiry. It was the Justice Minister who has a soft copy.
He says the report was important because his entire career depended on the outcome of the case.
"I had said that if there were any indication of a connection of Egrant to me or my family, I would resign."
9.38am: Taking the witness stand, Joseph Muscat says he is being advised by Dr Lia and Dr Gatt, who wrote on his behalf to obtain copy of Egrant inquiry. His wife was directly concerned in the matter.
"I received communication on Saturday morning before 9am from the Justice Minister who told me that report had reached AG. I asked Dr Lia to write to the AG for a copy. On Saturday, late afternoon Dr Lia handed me a copy of the report."
9.35am: Judge delivers decree: since Dr Lia is indictated as witness, the court upholds request of applicant and states that he is not to be present during hearing of other witnesses. Dr Lia walks out of the court room. Prime Minister walks in.
9.34am: Dr Lia wants to make a point. Judge tells him to stop.
In case, you're catching up with us now, the hearing started off on a bad note after the Opposition leader's lawyer objected to the presence of Pawlu Lia, the prime minister's personal lawyer, in the courtroom.
9.30am: The Attorney General insists that so long as they declare that they will not object to Dr Lia testifying at a later stage, the issue is settled.
"What is the scope of Dr Lia's presence today?", the judge asks.
"He just happened to be here," Dr Grech replies.
9.28am: The sitting resumes. Dr Delia's lawyer says that should Dr Lia be called to testify, he might not necessarily do so as lawyer. For instance, he might be asked at what time he received the copy of the Egrant report. "That is a matter of fact."
Let’s get to the truth— Adrian Delia (@adriandeliapn) October 26, 2018
Let’s do justice
9.23am: Adrian Delia weighs in on the case and tweets: 'Let's get to the truth, let's do justice'.
9.22am: Meanwhile, both the Prime Minister and the Justice Minister wait outside the court room until the first hitch is resolved.
9.20am: Dr Galea is not satisfied with the situation. He insists that this is a procedural issue which cannot be overruled by any court. Mr Justice Mangion has suspended the hearing for 10 minutes until Dr Galea makes the necessary consultations with the relative procedural law.
9.13am: Case kicks off on a bumpy note. Dr Vincent Galea, Adrian Delia's lawyer, is pointing out that Dr Pawlu Lia, Joseph Muscat's personal lawyer, who is present in the courtroom, is indicated as a witness. Should he be present?
Dr Lia states that he has a right to exercise his profession as a lawyer.
Dr Grech states that he will not raise objections at a later stage should Dr Lia be summoned as witness.
9.05am: Some background: Unless you've been off the radar, a magisterial inquiry last July found no documentation linking the Muscat family to the allegations, with a UK-based forensic accounting firm also failing to find any evidence linking the Muscats to Egrant on Pilatus Bank servers.
In 49 pages of conclusions published by the Attorney General’s office, the magistrate cast doubts on several aspects on the testimony of former Pilatus employee Maria Efimova and found that many of the allegations, first published by Daphne Caruana Galizia in April 2017, were not backed by proof.
But the public and the Opposition still don't have a copy of the full Egrant report.
9am: Speaking under oath during a two-hour long hearing last month, Attorney General Peter Grech said that he had first given Joseph Muscat a photocopied version of the full Egrant inquiry report and then sent Justice Minister Owen Bonnici an electronic copy some days later.
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