The decision to drop a number of libel cases, including against the Times of Malta, was not influenced by the fact that Nexia BT partner Karl Cini was set to testify, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi has insisted.
Dr Mizzi had sued former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil and other Nationalist MPs for libel over comments in connection with secret company 17 Black and his own Panama company.
The minister instructed his lawyers to stop the libel suits just weeks before Mr Cini was due to testify about e-mails relating to 17 Black. However, he insisted such testimony had “no bearing whatsoever” on his decision.
“We had the Egrant inquiry, which clearly stated that I did not have any connections with Pilatus Bank or Azerbaijan, as claimed. There were clear decisions by the court twice that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing on my part,” he said.
When it was pointed out that magisterial inquiries into allegations of alleged kickbacks and corruption, also in his regard, were still ongoing, Dr Mizzi insisted he had already clarified his position and also testified under oath on the matter. “I subjected myself to full scrutiny, day in, day out,” he said. “I respect the media to subject me to scrutiny. That is your job.”
Clear decisions by the court twice that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing on my part
Asked why he refused to invite the independent media to events he attended given the media’s job was to scrutinise MPs, the minister replied that was not the case. “I was inviting the media and there were occasions where I was misrepresented or even not quoted,” he said.
On the Corinthia Group land deal, Dr Mizzi said the company guaranteed it would not pursue land reclamation initiatives and that there would not be residential development beyond 25,000 square metres. Furthermore, a clause would be included in the deal barring the hotel chain from selling part of the project unless it was approved by the government.
The original draft deal, which Dr Mizzi had already presented to parliament, went back to the drawing board following vociferous opposition by different quarters.
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