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Dalli police investigation is entering its final stages

Decision whether to issue any charges is expected to be taken shortly

John Dalli was questioned for several hours last Tuesday. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

John Dalli was questioned for several hours last Tuesday. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

The police investigation into the John Dalli case is in the final stages and a decision over whether any charges will be issued is expected to be taken shortly, police sources have told The Sunday Times.

The case has been placed under an information lockdown by Police Commissioner John Rizzo, who took a personal lead in the questioning of the former EU Commissioner and Nationalist heavyweight on Tuesday.

However, police sources said that the evidence gathering was largely concluded and investigators were now in the process of establishing if further action will be taken in court.

Mr Dalli was forced to resign as EU Health Commissioner last month when the EU Anti Fraud Agency (OLAF) concluded there was “unambiguous” circumstantial evidence showing he knew that his former canvasser Silvio Zammit asked for money from a Swedish tobacco company to lift an EU ban on snus – a smokeless form of tobacco which can only be sold in Sweden.

However, the agency’s director general, Giovanni Kessler, had said there was no “conclusive evidence” showing Mr Dalli was involved in the request by his canvasser. Police questioned Mr Dalli at length between Monday and Tuesday during a 34-hour stay at the police headquarters in Floriana.

Malta Today reported that Mr Dalli spent the night in the Police Commissioner’s office and indicated he was never under arrest, in spite of the length of his stay, and reported the former EU Commissioner had asked for the questioning to continue uninterrupted.

However, the Police Commissioner refused to confirm or deny any information and when asked if the case merited a press conference or a statement, he said on Wednesday: “Do I tell you how to do your job? I said no comment.”

A detailed set of questions sent subsequently to the police’s media office about the matter also went unanswered with the police saying it was not prudent to comment given there is an investigation.

The OLAF dossier, which sources say includes transcripts of recorded phone calls, logs of text messages phone calls and e-mails, mainly probed the role of Mr Zammit, but also that of the Maltese representative of the tobacco firm Swedish Match, Gayle Kimberley, to whom the former Sliema deputy mayor allegedly first made the bribe request.

According to Swedish Match, which filed the complaint that triggered the OLAF probe, Mr Zammit first made the first bribe request to Dr Kimberley during a meeting at his restaurant, Peppi’s, in Balluta.

The company alleged that Mr Dalli was not present when the request for money was made because he had left the meeting early.

Both Mr Dalli and Mr Zammit have strenuously denied the allegations.

According to the company, a second request was made, this time to the industry’s Brussels-based lobby group, the European Smokeless Tobacco Council.

Both Dr Kimberley and Mr Zammit were questioned in the past weeks, with the latter facing Mr Dalli at the police headquarters on Tuesday.

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