A new twist has been given to the Panama Appeals court saga as Minister Konrad Mizzi on Friday filed a Constitutional application claiming a breach to his right to a fair hearing.

As one of seven high profile individuals, targeted by a decision delivered by Magistrate Ian Farrugia green-lighting an investigation in their regard following revelations emerging from the Panama Papers, Dr Mizzi is now claiming that the judicial process, sparked off by former Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil, was nothing more than an attempt “to cast a shadow upon his integrity”.

In the application filed before the First Hall, Civil Court, it was claimed that although allowed to join the proceedings instituted by Dr Busuttil against the Attorney General, Dr Mizzi, as well as the other appellants against the decision of Magistrate Farrugia, did not have a right “to actively participate in the proceedings”.

On the contrary, Dr Busuttil was present in court and made submissions through his lawyer.

Moreover, Dr Busuttil’s request for the recusal of Mr Justice Antonio Mizzi, assigned the appeals against Magistrate Farrugia’s decision, had been “nothing but an attempt at forum shopping and prolonged procedure,” giving rise to lengthy submissions in court.

Once the issue was definitively settled by the “highest court”, namely the Constitutional Court, in a judgment delivered on November 8, whereby the request for recusal was turned down and the appeals were sent back to Mr Justice Mizzi, Dr Busuttil informed the court that he was to take his grievance before the European Courts.

However, in spite of formally declaring this in court and after the case had been assigned to a different judge upon the retirement of Judge Mizzi, no such reference to the ECJ nor the ECHR was made, thereby indicating the “malintention” of Dr Busuttil, the application stated.

After being allowed to interfere in the proceedings, Dr Busuttil had made “a blatant attempt at forum shopping,” and had “maliciously wanted to mislead the Criminal Court”.

Moreover, the former Opposition Leader had constantly insisted on having proceedings conducted in open court, giving comments to the media after every hearing and manipulating the proceedings in such a way as to “cast a shadow upon the integrity of the applicant (Dr Mizzi)”.

In light of all this, the minister had been denied a right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time as safeguarded under article 39 of the Constitution and article 6 of the European Convention.

In conclusion, the applicant pointed out that the decree delivered on December 3 by Mr Justice Giovanni Grixti, now presiding over the appeals, meant that he would effectively be denied the right to defend himself since he would not have access to further submissions made by the other party.

“Those making the accusations would have the final say,” the applicant argued, referring to the decree which had stated that submissions were to be made in writing within four days of notification, with the final decision to be delivered in chambers.

The applicant, therefore, requested the court to declare all proceedings, following requests by Dr Busuttil and David Casa up to this stage, as “null and ineffective”.

The application was signed by lawyers Aron Mifsud Bonnici and John Bonello.

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