A blunder by Magistrate Joe Mifsud will lead to Gozitan developer Mark Agius, known as ‘Ta’ Dirjanu’ because of the supermarket chain owned by his family, to face charges again after the magistrate used the wrong legal procedure to let him off for damages he caused to the historical Cittadella ditch.
The case refers to an incident in April 2018 when, during a construction project in Victoria to convert an old townhouse into a hotel, a wall forming part of the historic fortifications collapsed.
Subsequently, the wall was rebuilt, with the developer proceeding to open a door and two windows onto the Cittadella ditch.
Following investigations, Mark Agius and his siblings, responsible for the development, were charged with criminal offences for causing damage to national heritage due to negligence.
In September 2021, Magistrate Joe Mifsud threw out all the accusations on the grounds that there was not enough evidence against the Ta’ Dirjanu siblings.
The Attorney General appealed. The objections included Magistrate Mifsud’s decision to ignore technical reports by court-appointed experts Alex Torpiano and Renata Farrugia.
In a judgement by the court of appeal, Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera declared Magistrate Mifsud’s original decision “null and void”. Scerri Herrera declared that the first court had no right to decide on the case.
It ordered the case to be heard again before a competent court, this time presided by Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech.
Mark Agius is known for his property deals with Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli. A number of Portelli’s developments are either fronted by Agius or their co-developer Daniel Refalo.
The trio has been involved in almost all the recent controversial projects in Gozo, turning quiet areas in several Gozitan villages into large scale projects involving the construction of hundreds of small flats all over the island.
Portelli, Agius and Refalo are also involved in an illegal concrete batching plant in Kercem, which the government keeps tolerating despite being abusively built and operated on government land.
The three businessmen are also involved in construction companies being given multi-million euro contracts by the government for projects such as the sports complex pool and the building of roads.