Former European Commissioner John Dalli is set to face charges over an attempt by his aide to solicit a €60 million bribe from a smokeless tobacco lobby group to help overturn an EU-wide ban on snus.
Dalli was forced to resign his post as European Commissioner over the scandal, which he continues to insist is part of a coordinated attack against him.
Silvio Zammit, one of Dalli’s aides, was charged in relation to the attempted bribe in 2012. Last year, a court ordered the case against Zammit to be closed after 16 no-shows by the Attorney General.
The Maltese police were set to also charge Dalli back in 2012 but he had claimed to be in a bad state of health and unable to return to Malta. He eventually returned shortly before Labour returned to power in 2013 but has never been charged in court.
Former Police Commissioner John Rizzo, who was Police Commissioner at the time and who had said that Dalli had a case to answer, was removed before charges against Dalli could be issued.
The police had subsequently said that the case against Dalli wasn’t as strong as initially suggested, with the case being shelved.
In comments to the Times of Malta, Dalli again insisted that he was the victim of a targeted campaign, describing the latest developments as “another fraud”.
In a Facebook post uploaded earlier today, Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi pointed to the decision to remove Rizzo as having been an essential prerequisite for the corrupt dealings by high-ranking officials in the Joseph Muscat administration.
“With John Rizzo in place there would have been no Panama, there wouldn’t even have been any VGH, they wouldn’t have received bribes from the sale of passports and there wouldn’t even be an Electrogas,” Azzopardi wrote, listing several other scandals from the past eight years.
He recalled how in December 2012, Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa, then the lead investigator in the case, had penned a memo to John Rizzo indicating why John Dalli needed to be arraigned on fraud charges.
The case against Dalli is set to begin next week.
“I am obliged to comment about how this case shows that the criminal Joseph Muscat can his friends broke John Rizzo, simply because he was an obstacle to their pre-arranged corruption,” Azzopardi said.
Both Muscat and former Police Commissioner Peter Paul Zammit needed to answer for their actions, Azzopardi insisted. “Had John Rizzo remained in place we would still have the rule of law in this country, and we would not have been embarrassed by the corruption emanating from Castille.”
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