The Malta Independent 5 August 2021, Thursday

Konrad Mizzi claims breach of his right to fair hearing in Panama Papers appeal

Friday, 14 December 2018, 16:37 Last update: about 4 years ago

Minister Konrad Mizzi has filed a constitutional application claiming a breach of his right to a fair hearing in a case related to the Panama Appeals. 

Mizzi’s application adds a new twist to the long-running Panama cases. One of seven high profile individuals, into whom an investigation was ordered by Magistrate Ian Farrugia following revelations emerging from the Panama Papers, Minister Mizzi is now claiming that the judicial process, filed by former Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil, was simply an attempt “to cast a shadow upon his integrity.” 

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In an application filed by lawyers Aron Mifsud Bonnici and John Bonello, before the First Hall, Civil Court, it was claimed that although allowed to join the proceedings instituted by Busuttil against the Attorney General, Minister Mizzi, as well as the other appellants against the decision of Magistrate Farrugia, did not have a right ‘to actively participate in the proceedings’ while Busuttil had presented documents to the court and made submissions through his lawyer. 

Moreover, Mizzi said, Busuttil’s request for the recusal of Mr Justice Antonio Mizzi, assigned the appeals against Magistrate Farrugia’s decision, had been “nothing but an attempt at forum shopping and prolonged procedure.” 

The recusal was eventually turned down by the Constitutional Court on November 8 and the appeals were once again sent back to Mr Justice Mizzi, at which point Busuttil had declared that he was to take his grievance to the European courts. 

However, despite this declaration, no such reference to the ECJ nor the ECHR was filed, thereby indicating Busuttil’s “evil intent”, the application stated. 

After being allowed to interfere in the proceedings, Busuttil had made a blatant attempt at forum shopping, and had “maliciously wanted to mislead the Criminal Court,” reads the document.

The application accuses the former Opposition Leader of constantly insisting on having proceedings conducted in open court, giving comments to the media after every hearing and manipulating the proceedings in such a way as to “cast a shadow upon the integrity of the applicant.” 

This, said the Minister, was tantamount to a denial of his right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time as safeguarded under article 39 of the Constitution and article 6 of the European Convention. 

Mizzi said the decree delivered on December 3 by Mr Justice Giovanni Grixti, now presiding over the appeals, meant that he would effectively be denied the right to defend himself since he would not have access to further submissions made by the other party.

“Those making the accusations would have the final say,” rued the minister, referring to Grixti’s decree which had laid down that submissions were to be made in writing within four days of notification, with the final decision to be delivered in chambers. 

The applicant requested the court to declare all proceedings “null and ineffective.”

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