Justice Minister Owen Bonnici has insisted that investigations into 17 Black are under way, denying that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was halting the process by filing an appeal.

Echoing similar statements made by the Prime Minister and other Cabinet members since it was revealed last week that the once-secret Dubai company is owned by power station businessman Yorgen Fenech, Dr Bonnici said that he would wait for an inquiry probing companies mentioned in the Panama Papers, including 17 Black before commenting.

When it was pointed out to Dr Bonnici that the Prime Minister, together with Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and his chief of staff Keith Schembri, among others, were appealing the decision to start an inquiry, the Justice Minister was adamant that this was not an attempt to stop investigations.

“He’s not trying to stop it, no, that is not correct. There is an appeal filed by the Prime Minister according to the sections of the law which give him a right to appeal a decision by the magistrate,” Dr Bonnici said.

Read: A guide into the maze of inquiries

Sections of the law give Prime Minister a right to appeal a decision by the magistrate

When Times of Malta again asked the minister how he could say that an inquiry was under way when he himself was contending that Dr Muscat was appealing the magistrate’s decision to start an inquiry, Dr Bonnici said that he would not “enter into a legalistic debate”.

Asked if he would have asked Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri to resign had he been Prime Minister, Dr Bonnici would not comment, saying he was not there to answer “hypothetical questions”.

Earlier this week, Health Minister Chris Fearne, Economy Minister Chris Cardona as well as Foreign Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela all stuck to the same script, refusing to say who should take political responsibility in light of the recent revelations until investigations have been concluded.


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