The Malta Independent 16 December 2019, Monday

‘I am already answering all questions in magisterial inquiries’ – Keith Schembri

Monday, 11 November 2019, 14:04 Last update: about 2 months ago

OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri said he is answering all questions being put to him in magisterial inquiries.

Schembri issued a statement through a private email address after he withdrew a libel case he had instituted against former Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil for – he said he was given legal advice not to answer in open court. He had earlier said that he was not “scared at all”.

He said that the libel case was instituted on 1 April 2016 after a speech by Busuttil the previous month. The libel case he had instituted had nothing to do with the 17 Black company and therefore dealt with issues brought up long before allegations about 17 Black were made public, Schembri said.

In the same libel case, Schembri said, Busuttil had refused to say that he (Schmebri) had been involved in illicit behaviour as he had alleged for many years.

In today’s sitting, Magistrate Victor Axiaq said he had offered legal services to the Kasco Group – of which Schembri was a director and is still a shareholder, Schembri said. This same service had been offered to Nexia BT, who are the Kasco group auditors.

Schembri said it was a surprise that Busuttil had no objection on this point. Schembri said he and his lawyers had decided to request the magistrate’s recusal anyway, a request that was denied. The magistrate also denied a request that no questions should be made on matters that could prejudice the magisterial inquiry into the operations of 17 Black, Schembri said.

In view of this, Schembri said that against his own wishes he withdrew the libel case as he felt that his fundamental and constitutional rights could be breached if it continued. He said he would continue to answer questions in magisterial inquiries called for by Busuttil.

Earlier, Schembri had said he was not scared at all when asked why he withdrew a libel case against former Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil after being warned by a magistrate.

Schembri this morning said in court that he had been given legal advice not to answer questions which relate to ongoing inquiries. He later withdrew so as to avoid being asked these questions.

Approached by journalists on his way back to his office in Castille, Schembri said that he is not scared at all.

 

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