The Malta Independent 22 May 2019, Wednesday

No libel cases filed by David Casa on stories claiming he was cocaine user, court told

Friday, 15 March 2019, 13:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

MEP David Casa had not filed any libel suits on stories claiming he was a cocaine user, a court has been told today

This emerged as MaltaToday editor Saviour Balzan and MEP Marlene Mizzi took the witness stand in a defamation case Mizzi had filed against fellow MEP David Casa, over allegations that she was keeping an office rental allowance to which she wasn’t entitled.

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Mizzi was using offices owned by her daughter, who would not accept rent from her. This led to allegations that she was “pocketing” allowances intended for paying the rent of the offices.

She referred to the General Expense Account Good Practise Guide, saying she was following those rules on how a parliamentarian is to act. “Parliamentarians are not obliged to give satisfaction on their expenses,” she said, explaining that the money was given to MEPs without a requirement for explanation on how they are spent. “It is up to the MEP to administer them.”

“Casa said I was pocketing the money. That is theft and I will never accept it [the accusation]. The fact that he is inflating salaries and taking drugs instead of trying to clear his name…” began the MEP before she was interrupted.
Mizzi exhibited a European Court judgment which established that the expense account is not to be made public for privacy reasons.

She was cross-examined by lawyer Jason Azzopardi who asked whether she knew whether Casa’s accounts were audited. “I don’t know,” she replied.

Asked whether her accounts were audited, Mizzi said they were and that “my accounts aren’t just audited by a Maltese auditor who simply relies on what the client tells them.”

She didn’t know who audits Casa’s accounts, she said. “That is his business. I am saying that my accounts are audited.”

MaltaToday managing editor Saviour Balzan was next to testify. Gatt asked him about the article which alleged that Casa’s aide had said that salaries were inflated. “There were a number of allegations,” Balzan said, which related primarily to the use of cocaine and the inflation of allowances and salaries.

Asked whether he had spoken to Casa, he replied that he did and that there were public declarations after the cocaine story was published.

“We asked him questions and he answered but most of his answers were about other subjects such as Pilatus Bank, and they were not clear,” Balzan said.

Balzan explained quoting emails that Casa had said “I’m being asked these questions when …premises leased by offspring rent free, necessarily implying that these funds are pocketed,” pointed out Balzan. “The only MEP who fitted that profile was Marlene Mizzi.”

Asked whether Casa had filed any libels about the cocaine allegations, Balzan said he had not.

Cross-examined by Jason Azzopardi, Balzan was asked whether the information had been given to him by a certain individual, but the court stopped the question to protect the security of sources.

Azzopardi moved on to the story itself. “Did you verify whether the accounts were audited?”

Balzan answered that Casa’s agent Nikki Dimech had confirmed that the expenses were audited, but Balzan said that for the period in question Nikki Dimech was not the agent.

“Are you aware that OLAF found everything in order?” Azzopardi asked. “No. Maybe you could give us this story?” quipped Balzan.

 

 


 

 

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