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No explanation in parliament on Ministers’ access to secret Egrant inquiry

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici
Justice Minister Owen Bonnici. Photo: MJCL/SPK - DOI

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici has failed to answer questions in Parliament on how three Ministers got to quote a paragraph from the Egrant inquiry that is meant to be confidential in their response to a court application by NGO Repubblika.

Ministers Konrad Mizzi, Chris Cardona and Edward Scicluna quoted a paragraph from the findings of the Egrant inquiry that was not among the 49 pages so far published by the Attorney General, The Shift News has revealed.

When queried in court during the proceedings brought by Adrian Delia to seek to obtain a copy of the full report, each of the persons with a copy (in addition to the police) – Bonnici, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Attorney General Peter Grech and government Head of Communications Kurt Farrugia – denied sharing a copy with other persons or that other persons have access to the report other than Muscat’s lawyer Pawlu Lia.

Read: Truth slips – Is the Egrant inquiry the worst kept secret in town?

When the Justice Minister was asked by PN MP Jason Azzopardi in Parliament last week to explain how the Ministers had access to confidential information from the court, Bonnici failed to reply. Instead, he lashed out at lawyers who wear “more than one hat” – serving as lawyers and parliamentarians at the same time.

The Justice Minister is himself a lawyer wearing more than one hat. He has admitted having access to the Egrant inquiry findings based on the claim that he was acting as the Prime Minister’s lawyer.

But Bonnici took issue instead with court documents being leaked to the media on the Vitals case,  stressing the confidentiality of magisterial inquiries. Yet he avoided explaining the access that government members, including himself, have to the Egrant inquiry findings that have not been made public.

“I appeal to some members of the Opposition – the confidentiality of an inquiry is there for a reason. So much so, that when the Opposition Leader asked for a copy of the Egrant inquiry, the court said ‘no’,” Bonnici said in Parliament.

While Opposition Leader Adrian Delia was denied a copy based on the argument by the Attorney General that it could be used “for political purposes”, the three Ministers were quoting from a document they should not have seen, using it to mount a defence of their involvement in the Vitals Global Healthcare scandal.

In Parliament, the Justice Minister also failed to address the issue of ‘equality of arms’ in the law. The Ministers are quoting from a document (Magistrate – now Judge – Aaron Bugeja’s findings in the Egrant inquiry) which neither the magistrate presiding over the case nor others can access, lawyers consulted by The Shift News said.

“Let our judiciary take decisions ‘with serenity’,” the Justice Minister said.

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