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Olympics committee: take action on officials

Malta could be denied Olympic accreditation

A frame from the secretly filmed video by The Sunday Times of London featuring Malta Olympic Committee president Judge Lino Farrugia Sacco and general secretary Joe Cassar.

A frame from the secretly filmed video by The Sunday Times of London featuring Malta Olympic Committee president Judge Lino Farrugia Sacco and general secretary Joe Cassar.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has dismissed a show of support from its Maltese affiliate for the officials involved in the organisation’s ticketing scandal and insisted action must be taken.

The IOC was reacting to a vote of confidence by the General Council of the Maltese Olympic Committee in its president, Mr Justice Lino Farrugia Sacco, and its general secretary Joe Cassar.

They have both been named by the IOC’s ethics commission as having been involved in a discussion with undercover reporters from The Sunday Times of London, apparently trying to circumvent the official ticket reselling mechanism.

A spokesman for the international organisation said its decision still stood and the IOC’s executive board was expecting action to be taken against the MOC’s top officials.

Nothing had changed, he said, adding that if action was not taken the IOC would announce the next steps it may take against the MOC and its members.

“At this stage we will need to see what actions the national Olympic committees take before deciding on the next steps. As the process is ongoing, we will not be commenting further,” the spokesman said.

The statement comes amid a stalemate after both officials refused to step down.

Last week, Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco – who is also facing an impeachment motion in Parliament over his position as judge as a result of the public rebuke by the IOC – said he was “considering” resigning his MOC post.

However, when contacted he said there had been no change.

“Should there be any developments, I will let you know,” he said.

The IOC has no power to directly discipline individuals in national affiliates but its executive board had warned that if the officials concerned did not face consequences, it could deny the MOC accreditation to its events, including the Olympic Games and the Youth Olympic Games.

Elections for the new executive committee of the MOC are expected in March.

Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco had defied a directive from the Commission for the Administration of Justice in 2006 to step down from the MOC, since holding such a position was in breach of the judiciary’s code of ethics.

This led to an unprecedented public reprimand of the judge in 2007.

Departing from its usual discretion, the Commission published a letter it sent to the judge in which it noted that his behaviour was unacceptable and that he was breaching the code of ethics of the judiciary.

But Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco stuck to his guns and in 2008 again contested the post of MOC president and won a third term. Following the recent reprimand by the IOC, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi called on the judge to “do the honourable thing” and relinquish his judgeship.

He then filed an impeachment motion, in which the next step is for the Commission to make a recommendation to Parliament.

If, according to the Commission, there is prima facie evidence for impeachment, Parliament will need to muster a two-thirds majority to impeach the judge.

Labour leader Joseph Muscat said he would follow the recommendation of the Commission, which is expected to be published early next month.

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