The Malta Independent 23 June 2024, Sunday
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Court denies Repubblika interested party status in Vitals criminal charges

Friday, 24 May 2024, 19:26 Last update: about 29 days ago

Repubblika has been denied participation in the criminal charges against a slew of public officers and private actors implicated in the Vitals privatisation scandal.

Magistrate Leonard Caruana said that although Repubblika had filed the original complaint against three ministers, it could not claim for itself ‘victim status’, and that this right was not automatically bestowed upon anyone claiming they are an injured party.

The decisions concerns the second tier of charges filed against former ministers Chris Fearne and Edward Scicluna, various former and standing civil servants, as well as lawyers and business managers connected to Vitals Global Healthcare and later Steward, the concessionaires of the state hospitals PPP.

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Lawyers acting on behalf of Joseph Muscat, who is also facing criminal charges, have also objected to a separate request by Repubblika to be admitted as the injured party in the criminal charges against him.

Muscat’s lawyers Vincent Galea, Ishmael Psaila, Charlon Gouder, Etienne Borg Ferranti and Dominic Micallef, have argued that Repubblika was wrong when it claimed to be the injured party who triggered the magisterial inquiry in 2019. “A magisterial inquiry is not begun by the injured party,” the lawyers argued. The relevant section of the Criminal Code does not speak of injured parties, but of “a person who is not the Attorney General or a police officer. The word used by the law is “a person” not “offended party,” as Repubblika is trying to imply.”

Similar requests by Repubblika had been rejected in Constitutional Court decisions from 2018, in Simon Busuttil’s case against the Attorney General, and May 2023, in a case filed by Repubblika against the State Advocate.

The lawyers insisted that for Repubblika, or any other person, to be admitted as the injured party in a criminal case, they must show that it had suffered damages as a result of the crimes with which the defendants are charged, and that it was the victim of the crime.

In such cases, it is the State that assumes the injured party’s status, represented in the proceedings by the State Advocate.

The only allows individuals, and not organisations, to be admitted as an injured party in criminal proceedings.

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