Lawyer's partner leaked investigation information to Silvio Zammit, court hears

Mr Zammit exiting court yesterday. Video: Paul Spiteri Lucas, Wessel de Cock

The investigation into former EU health commissioner John Dalli is still going on, although the police would not say of they plan to arraign the former PN Minister.

Testifying in the compilation of evidence against former Sliema deputy mayor Silvio Zammit, inspector Angelo Gafa asked to be allowed to skip some details from Mr Dalli's statements to the police so as not to hinder the pending investigations.

When he was asked later if he intended charging anyone else, Mr Gafa was uncomfortable naming anyone. Assistant Commissioner Michael Cassar, who was also present at the hearing later said up to now there was no plan to arraign lawyer Gayle Kimberley, a protagonist in the investigations or her boyfriend, Iosif Galea, leaving a question mark open on Mr Dalli.

Mr Zammit, 48, from Sliema, is pleading not guilty to charges of bribery, trading in influence and relapsing. He was investigated by local police following a probe by the EU Anti Fraud Agency, Olaf, which, in October, forced the resignation of Mr Dalli from the European Commission.

The report concluded there was "unambiguous circumstantial evidence" that Mr Dalli knew that a former canvasser of his – later named by the Maltese press as Mr Zammit – had asked tobacco firm Swedish Match for money to lift a ban on Snus -  a form of chewing tobacco that under present EU rules can only be sold in Sweden.

In his testimony, Mr Gafa gave a detailed account of the investigation in which he revealed a connection between all of the protagonists.

He revealed that Dr Kimberley, who was the head of legal services at the Gaming Authority while working as a consultant for Swedish Match, had a connection to Mr Zammit, through her lover Iosif Galea, who also works at the authority.

Mr Galea admitted to the police that he was close to Mr Zammit, he helped him organise his circus events and even kept his books.

The affair became salient to the proceedings because, Mr Gafa testified that there had been an attempt to blackmail Dr Kimberley - who is a main witness in the whole case. Dr Kimberley reported the attempted blackmail herself but did not  give details, when asked by the police.

"We understand that the blackmail was connected to this affair," Mr Gafa testified.

Moreover, Mr Galea admitted that he had alerted Mr Zammit about the Olaf probe, right after Dr Kimberley was interrogated for the first time during a surprise visit by two of the agency's investigators in Portugal, where she was attending an international conference.

Throughout his testimony, Mr Gafa, went through the statements of the Maltese people involved but also of officials from Estoc, Swedish Match and even Olaf, who were interviewed in Brussels late last month.

According to different testimonies,  Mr Zammit twice made a request for money in return for lifting the ban on Snus, once to Swedish Match and another time to the European Smokeless Tobacco Council.

He told the Snus lobby that  Mr Dalli was willing to take risks like he did with the GMO directive.

Moreover, telephone records show that Mr Zammit had called Mr Dalli before and after he asked ESTOC for €10 million to arrange a meeting with him. This was the same meeting in which he suggested that money was required for a change in the tobacco directive.

He said that during the interrogation, Mr Zammit released a declaration to the police in which he claimed that he was acting on behalf of others and that he never implicated people who were not involved in the matter.

However, when the police pointed out that this suggested he was implicating Mr Dalli, Mr Zammit withdrew his declaration.

In his last interrogation before he was arraigned, Mr Zammit made a categorical declaration that Mr Dalli was not involved in the matter.

However, Inspector Gafa testified, that Swedish Match official Johan Gabrielsson said that Mr Zammit left him morally convinced that Mr Dalli was behind the request for money, given the knowledge that the Sliema councillor seemed to have about the process of the Tobacco Directive.

Mr Dalli had been forced to resign by European Commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso. He has always protested his innocence.

Mr Zammit was charged yesterday and he was denied bail.


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