The Malta Independent 23 June 2024, Sunday
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We are about to have a 'judicial earthquake' based on a 'mountain' of evidence - Repubblika

Andrea Caruana Monday, 27 May 2024, 15:31 Last update: about 26 days ago

The hospitals inquiry is solid proof of the intricacies of corruption, Repubblika’s Honorary President Robert Aquilina has said.

Aquilina highlighted eight points that emerged a voluminous inquiry, arguing that it is solid proof of the intricacies of corruption.

This press conference should have been held at the Police Headquarters and addressed by the Police Commissioner, Angelo Gafa', Aquilina said. He said that it is meant to be a crime conference on the eve of unprecedented prosecutions in our country. Aquilina added that, once again, the Police Commissioner has shirked his duty and so the void must be filled by civil society.

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He went on to issue a declaration before the inquiry breakdown, saying that "the accused in the magisterial inquiry initiated by us, Repubblika, 5 years ago, are presumed innocent. I assume that, in court, the accused will plead innocent when faced with the charges."

Furthermore, Aquilina praised journalists for their role in uncovering the fraud in the hospital contracts, and said that it was Daphne Caruana Galizia who was the first to uncover this deceit. He further thanked MaltaToday for their courage to publish the inquiry.

He said that the accused, especially Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi, are trying to confuse the public and for that reason, it is important to ascertain that the content and the severity of the inquiry are known by the people.

Aquilina said that the people need to understand that when the cases start, a "judicial earthquake" will begin and for two reasons. Firstly, as it is an unprecedented step in our country that persons who occupied high public  roles, and some who still occupy them, are being taken to court facing serious criminal  charges, such as an ex-prime minister and the ex-deputy prime minister who still occupies the role of deputy leader of the Labour Party. For the second reason, he said that as opposed to what Joseph Muscat and the other accused are "bluffing, the proof of their deceit doesn't only exist," but rather there is a "mountain" of proof that was gathered by the presiding magistrate following the inquiry.

Aquilina said that he will focus of eight points or categories of proof and aspects, though there are many more, that will be heard in court in the coming months and years.

Aquilina said the 8 points will show that the proceedings that will begin are based on an intensive investigation that was thoroughly carried out by expert investigators led by the Magistrate Gabriella Vella. He said that the result was a very solid, "airtight" case with shocking proof of serious crimes that were done by a criminal organization.

Aquilina said that try as Angelo Gafa' and Victoria Buttigieg might to undermine it, the case is sealed and solid with evidence that leaves no room for doubt.

For the first point, Aquilina said that there was proof of theft from the Maltese people with investigators saying that they were shocked with the level of deceit of the individuals involved in this scam and "giant" theft. He said that forensic experts quantified the misappropriated amount from public funds to be at least €36 million and the inquiry also found and documented case upon case of misappropriated funds of the Maltese public.

He added that it is impossible to mention all the documented cases however he cited a number from the inquiry itself.

Aquilina, quoting the inquiry, mentioned how investigators highlighted the theft of money meant for cancer therapy citing €2.3 million that were stolen and were pocketed by MTrace, behind which was Ivan Vassallo and Keith Schembri.

Thirdly, he said that the inquiry found proof of the existence of a Political Support Fund, which was a fund intended to keep and pay bribery money. He said that evidence was found that the fund contained at least €1 million. Furthermore, Aquilina said that evidence was found that the €1 million came from the hospital concessions. He said that the investigators found an email, forming part of the pròces verbal, that leaves no doubt about this. He added that the fund was opened on the 11th of August 2019 on instruction of Armin Ernst, CEO of VGH, via a "Consultancy Agreement".

"The investigators involved in this inquiry found the pattern, and on that pattern, they found the fingerprints of Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi and their friends", Aquilina said.

He said that investigators also found clear proof that Keith Schembri was the mastermind of the bills in the name of the OPM and the Ministry for Energy.

"Here, we must mention what Keith Schembri said under oath in the public inquiry on the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Twice, again, under oath, Keith Schembri said that he never did anything behind the prime minister's, then Joseph Muscat, back", Aquilina said.

For the fourth point, Aquilina highlighted the betrayal of the oath of office with the investigators documenting various cases where those meant to be public servants betrayed the Maltese people and abused of their positions.

For the fifth point, Aquilina said that the Accutor was the common source of money for Muscat, Schembri and Mizzi. He added that the investigators found that, in a particular period, Schembri and Mizzi "were working outside their political roles" and added they were using their personal emails to negotiate their business with VGH.

Aquilina said that "it is good to mention" that the investigators established that from July 2015 to February 2016, Shaukat helped Schembri and Mizzi open accounts and secret companies in Dubai and, furthermore, in the same period Muscat had accompanied them both to Dubai. He went on to quote the investigators who said, "Dr Muscat kept Schembri and Mizzi in positions to control the concession."

Aquilina said that the 6th point concerns Jospeph Muscat 'deceiving the people' when he told them that he wants the truth to come out, but, then does everything to keep the truth about him under wraps. He said that this is the reason that Muscat worked against the inquiry and that he refused to give investigators the password to his devices. Aquilina said that evidence from Muscat's mobiles and other devices had to be lifted by American Homeland Security.

On the 7th point, Aquilina said that the inquiry ordered all of Muscat's accounts from 2020 onwards to be investigated and to investigate any connections Muscat has to any projects, loans and permits given to any companies during his tenure as prime minister.

Aquilina, in his 8th point, said that Robert Abela was informed via an email from Armin Ernst in September of 2021 that the VGH concession was fraudulent, at which point Abela failed to go to the police and instead kept on giving them millions.

Aquilina concluded in saying that Repubblika's suspicions on requesting an inquiry were well-founded and so the legal process requiring citizens to be able to go to the magistrate on duty and file an inquiry has worked. However, he added that the Prime Minister and the Minister for Justice, Jonathan Attard, said that they want to change the law to bar citizens from their right to request and inquiry in future.

He finished by reiterating Repubblika's presumption of innocence to the accused and their assumption that they will plead innocent.


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