The Malta Independent 17 July 2018, Tuesday

Konrad Mizzi avoiding cross examination is an abuse of procedure – Jason Azzopardi

Monday, 18 June 2018, 18:00 Last update: about 28 days ago

PN shadow environment minister Jason Azzopardi erupted in court this morning, describing a request that Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi avoid being cross-examined in a libel case he himself had filed as an "obscene abuse of procedure."

Azzopardi is a defendant in a libel case filed by Mizzi over a press conference he had held together with PN MP Marthese Portelli in May 2016.

Mizzi is refusing to testify in the libel case, which he had filed, on the grounds that the matter is the subject of a magisterial inquiry.

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That magisterial inquiry - into a number of high-profile Maltese figures mentioned in the Panama Papers leak: Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his chief of staff Keith Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, together with businessmen Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Malcolm Scerri and Adrian Hillman - has not yet started as magistrate Ian Farrugia's decision to allow it to go ahead is the subject of no less than seven appeals. The cases are further delayed as the judge allocated to hear the appeals has been asked to recuse himself as his wife is a government MP who had expressed herself publicly on the Panama Papers issue.

Magistrate Francesco Depasquale looked on as Azzopardi lambasted the Minister, who failed to appear in court today, for using the inquiry as a "ruse to avoid being cross examined."

"He must have opened the secret Panama company to help id-Dar tal-Providenza," Azzopardi said sarcastically.

Lawyer Peter Fenech pointed out that one case had nothing to do with Panama, as it concerned Enemalta. But Mizzi's lawyer Aaron Mifsud Bonnici insisted there was reference to Panama accounts.

The case continues in October.

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