The Malta Independent 18 September 2019, Wednesday

Repubblika files urgent application to order government ministers to exhibit their Egrant copies

Wednesday, 12 June 2019, 17:34 Last update: about 4 months ago

NGO Repubblika has filed an urgent court application, asking magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit to order government ministers to exhibit their copies of the Egrant inquiry after Ministers Konrad Mizzi, Edward Scicluna and Chris Cardona appeared to quote from it in court proceedings.

In the application, which was filed on Tuesday, lawyer Jason Azzopardi argued that the law of evidence states that a document being referred to by a witness or party must either be in the public domain or at least be accessible to the other party and, more importantly, the court.

Repubblika called on the ministers to inform the duty magistrate "so that the suspected persons stop abusing their positions." These suspected persons were now refusing an order of the duty magistrate, it said - something unprecedented.

The ministers had been caught out quoting parts of the 1500 page inquiry which were not part of the 55 pages released to the public, reads the application. "The ministers mentioned had the gall to quote from a document which the same Duty Magistrate doesn't have access to and want to make a mockery of her."

Quoting from the Constitutional judgment Mark Charles Stephens vs AG, the applicants argued that "The right to a fair hearing supposes compliance with the principle of equality of arms. This principle, which applies to civil as well as criminal proceedings requires each party to be given a reasonable opportunity to present his case under conditions that do not place him at a substantial disadvantage vis-à-vis his opponent."

 

They called upon the court to declare a breach of the seminal principle of equality of arms and order the respondents to exhibit "in its entirety, the document from which they quoted in their reply to the initial application, that is Magistrate Bugeja's process verbal and this besides any other order which the duty magistrate feels the need to order so that justice be done and be seen to be done."


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