Aaron Bugeja, the magistrate hearing the compilation of evidence against the daughters of former EU Commissioner John Dalli, has expressed frustration that the case has stalled once again, after the prosecution said that 'superiors' did not want to separate the proceedings against the six co-accused.
A year since criminal charges were first issued against Louise Dalli and Claire Gauci Borda, alongside foreign nationals Eloise Marie Corbin Klein, Charles Ray Jackson, Elizabeth Jean Jackson and Robert Mitchell McIvor, little progress had been registered.
All six co-accused were charged over allegations of money laundering, misappropriation of funds, fraud, making a false declaration to a public authority and the falsification and use of documents.
Ms Gauci Borda stands separately charged with breaching the Money Laundering And Financing Of Terrorism Act and with failing to carry out her professional duties as an accountant and auditor.
The court granted the prosecution one week to regulate its position, pointing out that such a decision was a prerogative of the Attorney General
During the previous hearing in the compilation of evidence over money-laundering allegations, the court had approved that the sitting could take place at the private residence of three of the co-accused, so as to circumvent logistical difficulties. This followed the declaration by lawyer Arthur Azzopardi, assisting Eloise Marie Corbin Klein, Charles Ray Jackson and Elizabeth Jean Jackson, that his clients were not fit to plead, due to advanced dementia.
During the previous hearing, the court was also informed that Mr McIvor had since passed away.
On Monday morning, prosecuting Inspector Yvonne Farrugia said: “At this stage I’m not saying the AG does not want to separate proceedings, but that the superiors had taken that stand.”
The court granted the prosecution one week to regulate its position, pointing out that such a decision was a prerogative of the Attorney General.
“Quite frankly, when in the decree of December 15, I had accepted to hear the case at the Jacksons’ residence, the idea was so as not to stop the proceedings,” the magistrate remarked.
On Monday, Dr Azzopardi explained in court that his clients were not entitled to care in Malta and had presented a note claiming that the prosecution was “obstinately refusing to play ball” in view of his clients’ medical problems.
Lawyer Stephen Tonna Lowell, assisting the Dalli sisters, said the strategy adopted by the prosecution, be it the Attorney General or the police, was wrong: “That the police come here after a year of having pressed charges and the Attorney General was not allowing the separation of the cases is unacceptable.”
Lawyer Stefano Filletti, who is also appearing for the Dalli siblings, argued that there was a right to justice within a reasonable time. The court was being practical in its efforts to solve the impasse, he said, but despite its best efforts there was a problem.
Two of the persons charged, namely Elizabeth Jean Jackson and Eloise Marie Corbin Klein, have so far never appeared in court.
From the very start Dr Azzopardi had informed the court that one of the women had survived a stroke, while the other had mobility problems which impeded her from being physically present in court. Now it appears that their health had worsened.
The case continues later this month.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us