Months into the compilation of evidence against the daughters of former EU Commissioner John Dalli over allegations of money-laundering and fraud, the prosecution has requested a separation of proceedings.
Louise Dalli and Claire Gauci Borda, alongside foreign nationals Eloise Marie Corbin Klein, Charles Ray Jackson, Elizabeth Jean Jackson and Robert Mitchell McIvor, are facing charges 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.
Almost one year since charges were pressed jointly against the six co-accused, no progress has been registered, with proceedings hampered by the fact that two of the persons charged, namely Elizabeth Jean Jackson and Eloise Marie Corbin Klein, have so far never made an appearance in court.
At the very start, their lawyer Arthur Azzopardi had informed the court that one of the women had survived a stroke, while the other had mobility problems which impeded both from being physically present in court.
During previous sittings, lawyers for the Dalli sisters had voiced concern over the fact that proceedings were dragging on for far too long merely because the prosecution had chosen to formulate its case in this particular way, namely instituting joint charges against all six co-accused.
As proceedings resumed after the summer recess, prosecuting inspector Yvonne Farrugia informed the court that the prosecution was to request the separation of proceedings in respect of Ms Jackson.
As for the other co-accused, Ms Corbin Klein - the one suffering from mobility problems - the prosecution claimed to have resolved the matter by finding suitable transport to ferry the house-bound patient to court.
“The problem lies in getting her out of her residence!” Dr Azzopardi remarked, pointing out that there were accessibility issues to contend with.
However, Stephen Tonna Lowell promptly pointed out that such a request for the separation of proceedings could not be made in the absence of four of the accused, namely the foreign nationals who were not present in court on Monday.
“Our interest is to ensure that this case proceeds. Nothing has been done in almost one year,” Stefano Filletti stressed further.
Declaring that the court too was interested in getting on with the proceedings, presiding magistrate Aaron Bugeja turned towards the prosecuting inspector, directing her to take into account all the circumstances brought to the knowledge of the court and to regulate the prosecution’s stand accordingly.
The case was adjourned to next month.
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