Former Police Commissioner John Rizzo told the Privileges Committee of the House of Representatives this morning that former EU Commissioner John Dalli was to have been accused in court of having 'known about everything' - knowing about trading in influence.

He said he had wanted to conduct a final interview with Mr Dalli before arraigning him before the criminal court, but was unable to do so as he was abroad and had presented certificates to show he could not travel as he was sick.

Mr Rizzo also revealed that after he was ordered by the Prime Minister to step down from the post of police commissioner, his successor, Peter Paul Zammit, never spoke to him about the case. 

The Privileges Committee is considering a breach of privilege raised by the Prime Minister against the Leader of the Opposition. Dr Muscat felt aggrieved by claims by the Opposition leader that there had been political interference in the police investigation of allegations against Mr Dalli. Commissioner Peter Paul Zammit had decided not to arraign Mr Dalli, saying there was insufficient evidence to proceed against him.

Mr Dalli had stepped down from the European Commission after Olaf, the anti-fraud agency, reported that he had known of trading in influence by his assistant Silvio Zammit as the EU was preparing amendments to the Tobacco Directive.

Mr Rizzo told the committee today that he was contacted by the Attorney General in October 2012 and asked whether the allegations by the EU anti-fraud agency Olaf against Mr Dalli should be investigated.

Mr Rizzo said he had read the Olaf report and decided that the case should be investigated afresh.

"We re-lived the whole process," Mr Rizzo said, saying the police interviewed all the persons involved, including the Olaf investigators. He conducted some of the interviews himself.

This was a very difficult case, he said, and the investigations were almost concluded. It was agreed with the Attorney General that criminal action should be taken against Mr Zammit and Mr Dalli.

Commissioner Peter Paul Zammit never spoke to me about the Dalli case- Former Commissioner Rizzo

Mr Dalli returned in late March or early April 2013.

Mr Rizzo said he was replaced as police commissioner on April 12 and was never able to interview Mr Dalli again. The new commissioner carried out his own investigations and decided not to proceed any further.

Replying to questions, Mr Rizzo said that among the people he had spoken to was Olaf director general Giovanni Kessler, but added that local police did not rely on the Olaf findings but had investigated all over again.

The decision to prosecute Mr Dalli and Mr Zammit was taken on the basis of the evidence collected by the Malta police and Olaf and after two detailed meetings with lawyers at the Attorney General's office.

Mr Rizzo said Inspector Angelo Gafa had been in regular contact with Mr Dalli's lawyer regarding Mr Dalli's physical and mental condition. Mr Dalli was not considered as having escaped from Malta and was expected back. Mr Rizzo said he did not consider it ethical to proceed in Mr Dalli's absence through arraignment by summons in the months before a general election on such a major case involving alleged bribery, more so as he wished to interview Mr Dalli once more.

No politician ever spoke to him on how to proceed in this investigation, Mr Rizzo said. The pressure on the case he had spoken about in the past came from the media and from remarks made in Parliament including, among others, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, Dr Franco Debono who repeatedly asked what stage the investigation had reached, and Dr Alfred Sant.  It was to be expected that the media and the MPs wanted to know the outcome of the case, which had led to Mr Dalli's departure from the European Commission.

Mr Rizzo said he was not informed by Mr Dalli of his return to Malta. He had known that Mr Dalli would return, but not when.

Asked by Chris Said (PN) whether he had stepped down or resigned from the post of Police Commissioner, Mr Rizzo said he was still a member of the Police Force with the rank of Former Commissioner, but he was ordered by the Prime Minister to serve as head of the Civil Protection Department. The Prime Minister had told him, on April 8, that he was being transferred because he had served as police commissioner for 12 years, which was a long time. He however also told him the police force had progressed under his command. He did not know of other reasons why he was transferred. In his hour-long meeting with Prime Minister Muscat, no particular case was discussed.

He said his successor, Commissioner Paul Zammit, never spoke to him about the Dalli case.

No further questions were asked.


In a reaction, Mr Dalli denied knowing of any trading in influence.

"I again reject this in the most assiduous way. I reiterate that I did not know of any attempt of trading in influence. The facts that even OLAF could not refute are that I was never swayed in my resolve to push through a tobacco directive which would have been effective."

Mr Dalli said Mr Rizzo had confirmed he had not completed his investigations and had wanted to interview him again. 

The former commissioner had had all the time in the world to interview him again before he left Malta and after he returned, which was before he was replaced, Mr Dalli said.

“How is Mr Rizzo making these assertions when he still had not concluded his investigation? Is this ethical behaviour on his part to publicise an opinion he held before having concluded his investigation?”

Mr Dalli said that had the police interrogated him after the leak of the OLAF report, it would have been him to ask Mr Rizzo many questions.

“I would have asked about his interview in Brussels with (Swedish Match representative) Johann Gabrielsson, when, as reported by Gabrielsson and corroborated by  Cecilia Isaksson (of Swedish Match) Gabrielsson was advised by both OLAF and the Malta police to continue stating his version about the meeting of the 10 February 2012, and which, back then, they all knew was a falsity, not to disrupt ‘investigations’ in Malta. Mr Rizzo has not yet taken any action against Johan Gabrielsson for this serious statement,” Mr Dalli said.

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