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Failure to publish Egrant report means people cannot be held to account - lawyer

Lawyers argue on the admissibility of Delia's list of witnesses

Attorney General Peter Grech (left) and Opposition leader Adrian Delia.

Attorney General Peter Grech (left) and Opposition leader Adrian Delia.

Lawyers for Adrian Delia and the Attorney General argued in court on Tuesday on the admissibility of a list of 23 witnesses whom the Nationalist leader would like to testify on the Egrant inquiry report.

Dr Delia has been requesting the court to order the AG to hand him a full copy of the Egrant inquiry report.

The Egrant inquiry at the Office of the Prime Minister.The Egrant inquiry at the Office of the Prime Minister.

Attorney General Peter Grech is arguing that the witnesses indicated by Dr Delia are "irrelevant" to the issue before the court.

Lawyer Vincent Galea, representing Dr Delia, said the court itself should be handed a copy of the report in confidence so that it could better decide on the relevance of his list of witnesses.

Among the witnesses called by Dr Delia are the Attorney General in his many capacities, including as chairman of the FIAU.

Dr Galea asked why the Attorney General had allowed other inquiry reports to be published in full, but not this one. He mentioned as examples the inquiries conducted into the (Paceville nightclub) PlusOne and Paqpaqli cases.

“At what stage of the investigations in the PlusOne and Paqpaqli cases were the reports published?”

As for the Egrant report, how did the AG hand a copy to the prime minister? Was this done through the Department of Information?

Since the Prime Minister had been armed with information currently being denied to the opposition leader, Dr Delia could not perform his role as “watchdog of the executive” and call for criminal investigations against particular persons as necessary, he said.

What if the inquiry report recommended criminal action against particular individuals and such advice was not followed?

“What if the inquiry report recommended criminal action against particular individuals and such advice was not followed? How could the opposition leader draw attention to this?”

Moreover, the AG had stated that a copy had been given to those having a “direct juridical interest” in the inquiry, the lawyer continued.

“If there is a case of money laundering, the victim of such a crime would be society at large. How can the opposition leader hold the executive accountable? Who will hold the state accountable if not the PN, the second largest party in Malta?”

Read: PM's personal lawyer is redacting Egrant report

It was also public knowledge that the Egrant report was presently being redacted, which meant that there were other persons who, unlike Dr Delia, had a full copy, the lawyer said.

As for the AG’s claim that the opposition leader was delaying the proceedings, Dr Galea said it was the attorney general who had objected to the case being heard with urgency.

Lawyer Victoria Buttigieg, representing Attorney General Peter Grech, who was not present in court, countered that "all the witnesses indicated by Dr Delia were irrelevant".

Dr Delia could not put questions in an attempt to obtain information which went beyond the ambit of this case, Dr Buttigieg argued, clarifying that the prime minister had asked for and been given a copy of the proces-verbal which was far less than the records of the inquiry which contained “voluminous documentation.”

The crux of the case was to determine whether the AG had exercised his discretion correctly and whether his decision had resulted in any discrimination, Dr Buttigieg said, adding that Dr Delia’s request would open the case “far beyond this issue.”

Making reference to Dr Delia’s allegedly “hypothetical suppositions”, Dr Buttigieg concluded that Dr Delia wanted the AG to do away with the secrecy of the inquiry.

Replying, Dr Galea said the attorney general had made the statement not under oath, that investigations were ongoing. At least the court ought to be equipped with a copy of the report in order to be able to decide upon the case.

Lawyers Joseph Giglio, Errol Cutajar, Bernard Grech, Janice Chetcuti and Andre Portelli were also counsel to Dr Delia.

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