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Dalli stay abroad extended

Investigators planned to call in former European Commissioner in January

Former European Commissioner John Dalli.

Former European Commissioner John Dalli.

The medical advice certifying that former European Commissioner John Dalli is unable to return to Malta due to ill health has been extended, further delaying the police investigation, The Sunday Times has learnt.

Investigators were planning to call in Mr Dalli in the first week of January for a final round of questioning over the scandal that ended his Brussels career, before proceeding with his arraignment. However, their plans were disrupted when he was taken ill at a Brussels hospital.

His lawyers have presented medical certificates to the police certifying that Mr Dalli is unable to fly.

The first certificate, signed off by a Belgium-based physician, was presented towards the last week of December and said Mr Dalli would be unable to travel long distances until January 20.

However, a few days before that deadline a second certificate, this time from a medical centre based in Germany, was presented saying it would need to be extended at least until the end of last month.

That period has now been extended till the end of March, according to sources.

So far, police have charged Mr Dalli’s former canvasser, Silvio Zammit, who allegedly asked tobacco manufacturer Swedish Match for a €60 million bribe to lift the ban on snus – a smokeless tobacco which can only be sold in Sweden under EU rules.

Mr Zammit has denied charges of corruption and trading in influence.

Recent court proceedings revolved around action on the part of Mr Zammit’s lawyers to gain access to the investigative report by the EU Anti-Fraud Agency which triggered Mr Dalli’s resignation.

The document has not been made public but the agency’s director general Giovanni Kessler had said there was “unambiguous circumstantial evidence” that Mr Dalli knew his name was being used in connection with this bribe request.

The prosecution had argued against the release of the document, saying it could be prejudicial to Mr Dalli’s arraignment. However, the presiding magistrate eventually ruled towards the end of January that the defence should be granted access to it, although the document has still not been made public.

The Sunday Times is informed that Mr Zammit’s lawyers only gained access to the document in recent days.

So far, the defence has not yet had an opportunity to make its case since the proceedings have focused on going over the prosecution’s evidence. The next sitting, scheduled for Thursday, is expected to hear the testimony of Gayle Kimberley, the Maltese lawyer who represented Swedish Match in Malta during meetings with Mr Dalli and Mr Zammit.

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