Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has told a court that he wants former Pilatus Bank employee Maria Efimova to return to Malta to physically testify in libel cases he had opened.
Muscat was in court today to testify against Matthew Caruana Galizia, son of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, former NET TV journalist Mario Frendo and NET TV editor Karl Gouder, libel cases which have dragged out for almost four years.
The libel case against Caruana Galizia relates to his allegations that Muscat has used an offshore company to take kickbacks from the sale of Maltese citizenship, while the case against Frendo relates to his report on the same allegations.
Meanwhile, Muscat sued Gouder after NET carried a report alleging his wife Michelle Muscat had received large sums of money from the daughter of Azeri president Ilham Aliyev, a feature which included PN media journalists doorstepping Michelle Muscat while her children were by her side.
Joe Zammit Maempal, the lawyer of the defendants, informed the court that they intend to bring forward Efimova as a witness to testify remotely.
However, Muscat’s lawyer Pawlu Lia countered that Efimova, who lives in Greece, should testify physically, seeing as she’s already been charged in Malta with perjury over her testimony in the Egrant magisterial inquiry.
Efimova rose to prominence in 2017 when she sensationally told now-assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia that the Panama company Egrant belongs to Michelle Muscat, wife of then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
A magisterial inquiry later found no evidence that Egrant ever belonged to the Muscats or that it received any payments whatsoever, but didn’t establish who the company was purchased for.
The inquiry also found evidence of forged signatures on alleged copies of declarations of trust that were presented by Pierre Portelli, who was back then editor-in-chief of The Malta Independent.
Last year, Efimova said she has documental evidence related to her Egrant allegations but that she needs to hire an “independent forensic document examiner” to verify it. Within a matter of days, she had raised €15,000 through a crowd-funder.
In November, she told Lovin Malta that she spent €13,000 of the money she raised on commissioning a forensic analysis of Egrant-related documents. However, she later said she won’t publish proof of payment unless Malta grants her whistleblower status.
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