The Malta Independent 21 May 2022, Saturday

Medical visa scandal: Witnesses say Gafa first approached them for payment, then offered hush money

Monday, 28 October 2019, 16:55 Last update: about 4 years ago

A number of men have testified against Neville Gafa on the medical visa scandal, telling Magistrate Victor Axiaq that the man had first demanded €2500 for medical visas and had then offered them thousands of euros to buy their silence.

At least four men testified this afternoon, via videolink from Libya, in the libel case filed by Gafa against The Malta Independent. 

Gafà had sued The Malta Independent on Sunday editor David Lindsay over a story which stated that a number of Libyan nationals were made to pay for medical visas for treatment in Malta, treatment that was meant to have been given free of charge under a bilateral agreement to treat Libyans wounded in the hostilities in their homeland.

The newspaper reported that "dozens" of Libyans alleged that they were made to make payments to government official Neville Gafà to secure their medical visas to enter Malta and be treated.

The witnesses, cross-examined by defence lawyer Peter Fenech, said that Gafa had approached them with an interpreter once they were in Malta.

"I was in hospital. There was security," said one. "They resist any visitor. They said this order came from Mr. Neville Gafa. They closed the doors and said no one enter or exit."

Asked if he had ever spoken to Gafa, the man said he had met him in hospital, where Gafa had introduced himself as "the agent of the Government of Malta."

Gafa had demanded €2500 to let him stay in Malta, one said. The money was supposed to be for visas and to complete his medical treatment.  Fenech exhibited a video recording of a statement released by one of the men.

"Did he give him the money?" asked the lawyer. "I didn't give anything and the rest of the wounded, some of them give and some of them don't have money. And he told them to contact their families to send the money," replied the witness.

They were asked to give money and when some of them could not pay, they were asked to get money from their family to pay for treatment.

Was the money for treatment or to pay for visas, asked Fenech. "He wanted the money for Visas and the treatment."

One man said he had contemplated suicide as a result.

One of the witnesses said that he had been informed by Gafa's interpreter that if he wanted to stay in Malta for medical treatment he would have to pay money. He refused to pay. Fenech asked him who he was supposed to pay. "Neville Gafa."

Later, he said, he was approached with hush money. "Don't talk about this case...in return he will give us money and the treatment we wanted. Between €200,000 and €300,000. We refused."

"We were in a bad conditions there, in Malta and we told Khaled Bin Nasan ...to tell the law courts what happened with us."

The case continues.

 


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