The courts have rejected a request by Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi for career criminals Vince Muscat and Alfred and George Degiorgio to be included in a libel case instituted by Minister Carmelo Abela over the 2010 HSBC hold-up.
Abela filed defamation proceedings against Azzopardi after the PN MP uploaded a Facebook post claiming that the minister had been an accomplice in the case and was promised €300,000 for his role.
Muscat and the Degiorgios have also named Abela in relation to the case, though Azzopardi was the first to publicly name the minister, who denies the allegations.
Earlier this year, Azzopardi had asked the court to admit Muscat, known as il-Koħħu, as well as Alfred Degiorgio il-Fulu and George Degiorgio ic-Ċiniż, as parties in the case, to prove his defence that claim was an “honest opinion”. However, the request was opposed by Abela.
The court however noted that the MP could not prove the basis of his honest opinion by presenting the witnesses making the allegation in the first place and that ultimately the declaration was attributed to him.
In a reaction, Azzopardi said he wasn’t surprised by the minister’s refusal to allow the career criminals to be heard by the court.
He noted that Abela had opted to sue him for libel but not the criminals.
“Had it been me instead of him, because the accusation being made is so serious and because I am a sitting minister and because the accusation places the government, and the country, in a negative light, I would not have objected to the request,” Azzopardi said.
By doing so, he said Abela would have shown that he had nothing to hide.
“Carmelo Abela is afraid that the whole truth will come out. Carmelo Abela knows that he will have a problem if other people who were involved in the hold-up testify. Carmelo Abela is doing the same thing Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi did and running away when evidence starts being heard in court,” Azzopardi said.
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