JPO 'felt ill' over Labour's Mistra revelations
The Prime Minister’s spokesman, Gordon Pisani, revealed for the first time details of two conversations he held with Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando on the eve of the 2008 election, quoting the backbencher as feeling “ill” over Labour’s revelations about his land at Mistra.
The conversations were held on March 6, the last day of the campaign, immediately after then Labour leader Alfred Sant had revealed the existence of a contract which confirmed Dr Pullicino Orlando’s plans to turn his field in Mistra into a discotheque.
The scandal helped the PN paint Dr Sant as a coward since he refused to confront Dr Pullicino Orlando face to face. However, it also soured relations between Dr Pullicino Orlando and the party’s administration, since he was accused of withholding key information from his superiors who were coordinating his defence.
Called up by Mr Pisani, Dr Pullicino Orlando was asked whether he had a lease contract for his land at Mistra. He responded by asking: “Why?”, according to Mr Pisani’s notes.
When Mr Pisani explained that Dr Sant had published the contract, Dr Pullicino Orlando said: “I’m feeling ill”, repeating that line several times and saying he could not come as Mr Pisani ordered him to rush to PN headquarters.
“Is your contract worth hundreds, thousands?” asked Mr Pisani.
“Isn’t it better if you didn’t know?” replied Dr Pullicino Orlando.
“Tens of thousands?”
“Big amounts,” was the MP’s reply.
The second phone call was made after Mr Pisani went to the office of then general secretary Joe Saliba, at Pisani Buildings, where there was also Mr Cachia Caruana. He explained to them what happened and then called Dr Pullicino Orlando to inform him that the messenger went to his house but did not find him there.
“The party is crumbling. Come now,” Mr Pisani says.
Dr Pullicino Orlando arrived with his lawyer Alex Perici Calascione, saying he had the right to make a contract and this did not amount to corruption. He said he entered into the contract to have a good income, according to Mr Pisani.
He was told to release a statement and go straight to the police commissioner.