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Updated - Dalli replies as Kessler asks why he hits out at everyone, but not Silvio Zammit.

Former Commissioner says Kessler fled Malta after his protest to the police

Updated - Adds John Dalli's reaction below - The head of the EU’s anti-fraud agency has questioned the decision of former European Commissioner John Dalli to attack his office and other institutions in the enduring Dalligate saga instead of turning the guns on the man charged with allegedly asking for a bribe in his name.

“He (Mr Dalli) has been very proactive, going to the police in Malta, in Belgium, to the press and in other fora, to denounce everybody... but not Silvio Zammit. What would you do if a former friend betrayed you and that cost you your career?” Giovanni Kessler asked.

“He could have taken Mr Zammit to court for tarnishing his reputation... He could have accused him of trading in influence to his detriment. There is no question that Silvio Zammit has damaged Mr Dalli, greatly. Mr Dalli also has the right I think, to be a civil party in the criminal case. It would give Mr Dalli the right to have a lawyer in that case putting questions to Mr Zammit. He didn’t. Why?”

Mr Kessler was speaking in an interview with The Sunday Times of Malta.

He told a Maltese court last Tuesday that the anti-fraud agency (OLAF) had interviewed two members of the former Commissioner’s Cabinet who said Mr Dalli had twice enquired about lifting a ban on snus – the central issue at the centre of the scandal. Mr Dalli was forced to resign from the European Commission in October 2012.

Mr Zammit, 58, is facing charges in relation to his alleged request for a bribe of €60 million in return for the lifting of a ban on snus – a smokeless form of tobacco popular in Sweden which cannot be sold anywhere except in the Scandinavian country, according to EU rules.

More in The Sunday Times of Malta and the e-paper on timesofmalta.com.

JOHN DALLI REACTION

In a reaction, John Dalli said his reply as to why he had not taken action against Silvio Zammit was that he was waiting for the conclusion of the judicial process currently under way, and then he would consider his options.

"I believe that the conclusion of these procedures should be judicial action against Kessler and against the employees of Swedish Match, Hildingsson, Gabrielsson and Delfosse who have concocted and implemented the setup against me. Not the mention politicians and functionaries in Brussels and in Malta who were privy to this fraud."

Mr Dalli asked why Mr Kessler did not take action against Johan Gabrielsson and Cecilia Kindstrand-Isaksson of Swedish Match who have stated, as shown by a recording in the public domain, that OLAF  in collusion with the Malta Police  had advised Gabrielsson to stick to his story of the false meeting with Gayle Kimberly on February 10, 2012. Gabrielsson was heard saying “They said like this, we can't give you any orders how you, because you have done nothing wrong in this, but we have done an investigation, there is Maltese investigations, it would be preferably that this is not disturbed and this will definitely not help certain things that come out.”

This he did with relish in a speech he delivered in the European Parliament, Mr Dalli said. He had then  instituted legal proceedings in Brussels against Swedish Match – now even extended against OLAF – about what was stated in that meeting.

Mr Dalli asked why Mr Kessler did not take action against MEPs Jose Bove and Bart Staes for accusing him, in an article they wrote on October 10, 2014 in Euractiv that “The Olaf report on the alleged attempts by Dalli to change the Directive on Tobacco Products in exchange for money was manipulated, partial, biased and full of lies and illegalities”. 

Mr Dalli said he was also asking why Mr  Kessler did not take action against MEP Inge Graessle and others who had been asking for his resignation for the same reasons and who, after the publication of the opinion of the Supervisory Committee [which Kessler held under wraps for 18 months] declared that “it's the working method of the director-general. It is rotten right to the core.”  

Mr Dallis said Mr Kessler had wanted to throw dirt in court and thought that he could get away with it.

Mr Dalli added that Joanna Darmanin (his chef de cabinet as commissioner) had, behind his back, prepared a document at the end of August 2012 titled Negotiation in Tobacco Products Directive where she was plotting with someone else how to dilute the tobacco directive – including the lifting of the Snus ban.

As to why he had not opted to be a civil party in the Silvio Zammit case, Mr Dalli said he had asked his lawyer many times for a chance to be involved in the judicial proceedings but his advice always was that the court would never accept it. "I would have had the opportunity to question Rizzo, Kessler and the Swedish Match/ESTOC employees who are afraid to take the stand in Malta,2 Mr Dalli said.

Mr Dalli said Mr Kessler's refusal to appear before the Privileges Committee after being refused permission by the European Commission was 'an excuse' as Mr Kessler was fleeing Malta after his protest to the Commissioner of Police was published.

"The evidence is a follows:

"1. My press release to the(Police)  Commissioner asking him to take action against Kessler was carried in the papers around 16:15
2. Kessler boards a plane to Italy at 17:45
3. The Speaker receives the letter of his non-attendance at 18:17
1. The letter informing the speaker that Kessler “was not allowed to attend” was a repeat of what he had said in July of last year
1. An excuse that was quickly put together.
2. An excuse not based on facts – as stated by the Speaker
3. In other words – an excuse."

(Mr Kessler actually left Malta on the day after he was due to appear before the parliamentary committee)

On comments by Mr Kessler saying that the Bahamas Investigation would be concluded by summer, Mr Dalli said his reply was 'About time'.

"This is far beyond the nine-month that they should have taken. What fabrication is he trying to concoct by that time?"  

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