A self-assured Adrian Delia took to the stand at the Constitutional Court this morning to make his case for the publication of the Egrant magisterial inquiry report.
“It is my constitutional duty to scrutinise the government and to be the voice of the minority in a democracy that comes with checks and balances to ensure the government doesn’t slip into totalitarianism,” the Opposition leader told Judge Robert Mangion. “In fact, the Constitution itself obliges me to have the same information on issues of national interest as the Prime Minister does so that I will be able to raise certain points and take certain decisions.”
Delia’s legal argument is that the Attorney General’s refusal to hand him the report has led to a political inequality of arms, with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in possession of information that he isn’t privy to.
Although the PN leader stuck to his stance that the inquiry report will not contradict the published conclusions, he argued that it could well contain crucial information on politicians and politically-exposed people.
“The conclusions provide answers to the scope of the inquiry, which is whether the Prime Minister’s wife owns Egrant, whether the Prime Minister, his wife, Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi and John Dalli have Pilatus Bank accounts, and whether these bank accounts used to conduct suspicious transactions with people from Azerbaijan,” Delia said, “However, the full inquiry could contain other crucial information – such as how much money Keith Schembri had in his Pilatus Bank accounts and whether these accounts were used to conduct suspicious transactions not involving officials from Azerbaijan.”
On my way to court to expose how the AG has and is still breaching the Constitution to favour the party in government @JosephMuscat_JM @MaltaGov . This is the fight for Freedom of speech. This is the struggle for Democracy ✊ #malta #socjetalijimpurtaha
— Adrian Delia (@adriandeliapn) September 5, 2018
“We’re not talking about personal information that directly concerns the Prime Minister but about crucial political information which is obviously in the public interest but which the Prime Minister and the Attorney General are keeping to themselves and, perhaps, to other parties.”
Delia argued that the Prime Minister is already using the information in the report for political purposes, such as when he recently said the inquiry uncovered other forged signatures besides the one on alleged declarations of trust linking Michelle Muscat to Egrant.
“Muscat has privileged information which is being used by the Labour Party and which the Nationalist Party cannot comment on because it doesn’t have access to the information,” he said.
Philip Galea Farrugia, from the Attorney General’s office, hit Delia with three main arguments – that the Prime Minister and Opposition leader occupy different roles in society, that Delia himself had publicly said the report will not cancel out the conclusion findings, and that the inquiry contains “massive” troves of personal information about non-political or politically-exposed people.
However, Delia stuck to his guns, insisting the report must be published and that it was up to the Attorney General to black out personal information that isn’t in the public interest.
Joseph Muscat addresses the public after the Egrant inquiry clears his wife and him
Addressing journalists outside the court, flanked by his lawyer Vincent Galea, Delia turned it up a notch.
“We exposed how the Attorney General intentionally breached the Constitution and gave tools to the PL leader which he didn’t give to the PN leader,” he said. “The AG’s poor and pitiful excuse was that the inquiry concerned the Prime Minister directly, but the Prime Minister’s answers to his question on whether his wife owns Egrant were already answered in the conclusion, so by that logic he didn’t need to be granted the entire report.”
“We’re in Malta, not North Korea, and we’re supposed to be a free country where public information cannot be concealed by the Attorney General.”