Former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has accused Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi of using all possible legal manoeuvres to block an inquiry into the Panama Papers.
Dr Mizzi last week filed a Constitutional application arguing that his right to a fair trial was being breached by the request for an inquiry filed by Dr Busuttil.
The minister demanded that no decision should be taken about whether to hold the inquiry until his arguments about a human rights breach before the Constitutional court were heard.
Dr Busuttil and civil society group Repubblika took to the courts to again demand an inquiry in March due to the “institutional paralysis” over the Panama Papers scandal.
In reply to the Tourism Minister’s request to postpone the inquiry decree, Dr Busuttil told the court on Monday that an inquiry was merely an evidence-gathering process, not a hearing or a trial.
“No one is prejudiced by the gathering of evidence”, Dr Busuttil said.
The former Opposition leader said Dr Mizzi’s request amounted to an attempt by a top government official to block an investigation and prevent evidence from being gathered and scrutinised.
A leaked e-mail found in the Panama Papers revealed how Dr Mizzi, together with the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri, planned to receive $2 million in deposits using secretive offshore structure.
One of the companies linked to the planned deposits was owned by Yorgen Fenech, one of the investors behind the power station project spearheaded by Dr Mizzi.
Dr Busuttil said a similar Constitutional application claiming a human rights breach had been dropped by the minister in January.
In the application, Dr Mizzi had argued that he faced both an actual and potential breach of his rights if a Panama Papers inquiry took place.
This application was dropped after an appeal by Dr Mizzi, among others, successfully blocked the inquiry, so by his own admission, the potential breach of his human rights no longer existed, Dr Busuttil argued.
Various case law was also cited, in which it was ruled that decrees should only be postponed in exceptional circumstances.
An identical reply to Dr Mizzi’s request to block the decree was filed by Repubblika.
Both replies were signed by PN MP Jason Azzopardi.
Do not have an account?Sign Up