Civil society group Repubblika is seeking to have an inquiry into a controversial hospital privatisation deal assigned to a magistrate immediately. 

Two weeks ago, magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit upheld an application by the NGO requesting a magisterial inquiry to establish if there was criminal complicity by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, Economy Minister Chris Cardona and Ivan Vassallo, owner of a medical supplies firm, in the transfer of St Luke's, Karin Grech and Gozo hospitals to Vitals Global Healthcare.

All three ministers have filed an application to revoke the decree. Mr Vassallo has not, meaning the magisterial decree is applicable to him.

Two weeks have passed since that decree but the case has not been assigned to a magistrate. Inquiries are assigned to magistrates by lot. 

In a judicial protest, Repubblika's lawyer Jason Azzopardi argued that there was no reason why an inquiry into Mr Vassallo should not have started yet. 

The delay was “unheard of, illegal and abusive", Dr Azzopardi said. 

Repubblika called on the registrar to “immediately” assign the inquiry into Mr Vassallo to a magistrate to begin investigating.

The civil society group further held the registrar responsible for damages.

Vitals took over the three state hospitals in March 2016, in an opaque deal which the National Audit Office subsequently opened an investigation into. 

Less than two years later, the company's stake in local hospitals was bought out by US healthcare giants Steward. 

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