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Maltese Magistrate Orders Panama Papers Inquiry In Win For Former PN Leader Simon Busuttil

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Magistrate Doreen Clarke has ordered that an inquiry into the Panama Papers should go ahead, accepting the arguments made by former PN leader Simon Busuttil and the group Repubblika.

Clarke ruled today that magistrate Charmaine Galea, who is already conducting an inquiry into 17 Black, should widen the scope of her investigation to include all allegations of corruption and money laundering revealed by the Panama Papers.

Back in January, judge Giovanni Grixti turned down a request by Busuttil to order a magisterial inquiry into the Panama Papers, arguing that the former Opposition leader’s request was “full of conjectures”.

“The prerequisite for a magisterial inquiry should not be the opinion of a third party, but that the facts mention amount to a criminal act,” Grixti ruled.

Two months later, Busuttil submitted a fresh court application for an inquiry, warning that the “institutional paralysis” preventing an investigation into Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri was in breach of EU law. Repubblika filed a separate application requesting the same investigation, with Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi acting as lawyer for both parties.

Mizzi responded by filing a constitutional case against the Attorney General, warning that such an inquiry would breach his human rights and insisted that no inquiry should take place while this new case of his was being heard.

However, Clarke today dismissed Mizzi’s arguments and ordered that the Panama Papers material be passed on to Galea for investigation.

Busuttil hailed Clarke’s decision as “one small step for justice but one giant leap for Malta” while Repubblika said that “justice will be done one day”.

READ NEXT: Panama Papers Inquiry Will Not Happen As Judge Rules Former PN Leader’s Request Was Full Of Conjectures

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