An eleventh hour request filed by three ministers to not testify in a case concerning the Egrant inquiry has been upheld by the Constitutional court.
Tuesday’s decision revokes an order issued by the same court in August.
It was delivered in chambers one day after lawyers for ministers Edward Scicluna, Chris Cardona and Konrad Mizzi argued that the ministers should not explain under oath how they had obtained information which had not featured in the published conclusions of the Egrant report, in an appeal filed by Opposition Leader Adrian Delia.
The three had made reference to this information when testifying during a case concerning a request for a magisterial inquiry into the Vitals Global Healthcare hospital privatisation deal.
On Tuesday, the Constitutional court found that the ministers did not have to take the witness stand and could instead present “the extract/s quoted from the Egrant inquiry” and which had sparked the court action.
This would avoid them from being “forced to answer questions” which could possibly lead to them facing criminal action, as a result of a separate court application filed by civil society group Repubblika.
The court observed that Dr Delia’s interest lay in showing that the Ministers had indeed quoted from the unpublished part of the Egrant inquiry report, whereas the ministers had an interest not to answer questions or produce the requested documents.
Both were “legitimate” though “conflicting” interests which the Court had to balance.
If the ministers presented the extracts quoted, Dr Delia’s interest could be served without the ministers being asked to testify or produce the full text of their replies in the magisterial inquiry case.
The court gave the minsters two days to file in the records of the Egrant appeal “all extracts from the Egrant inquiry” referred to when testifying in the Vital Global Healthcare inquiry case.
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