FTS corruption: appeal filed against Edward Caruana’s acquittal

‘The magistrate got it completely wrong’ – senior lawyers

 

An urgent appeal has been filed by the police against a judgement delivered by Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech on Monday, through which she acquitted former minister Evarist Bartolo’s chief ‘canvasser’ Edward Caruana of serious charges of embezzlement of public funds and bribery linked to public school projects.

A spokesman for the police, which investigated and prosecuted Caruana, has informed The Shift that the police have already filed an appeal against the judgement.

The police and the Attorney General usually take much longer to decide whether to file an appeal. In this case, the police acted immediately, a day after the judgement was handed down.

The case will now be heard by the Court of Criminal Appeal by a judge yet to be assigned.

Sources close to the police told The Shift that the prosecution in the case is “flabbergasted at the way the magistrate interpreted the law and let Caruana off the hook”.

This is in line with comments given to The Shift by various criminal lawyers, who called the magistrate’s reasoning “strange” when she declared that the prosecution had failed to prove that Caruana was a public official. This was one of the main premises on which Caruana was acquitted.

The magistrate said that before his employment with the government’s Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools, Caruana was employed with “a private company”, referring to Resources Support & Services Limited (RSSL), which is a fully-owned government company established to absorb employees from other state entities.

It was former FTS CEO Philip Rizzo who brought the case to the police after months of pleading with then-education minister Evarist Bartolo and disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat to take action against Caruana over claims of corruption.

Caruana was employed at the FTS by Evarist Bartolo and was given a €50,000 a year job as a manager responsible for public school maintenance and building projects.

During the court case, it emerged that Caruana used to deliver payments to school contractors by hand and persisted in doing so even when he was formally asked to discontinue the practice.

Former FTS chief financial officer Christopher Pullicino, now deceased, had also testified that he had been compelled to report Caruana to his superiors after Caruana threatened him when he asked him to stop distributing cheques.

In 2016, Pullicino even had to email FTS Chairman Saviour Formosa to report an incident with Caruana over the cheques.

“I just had a telephone call on my mobile at 16.32hrs from Mr Edward Caruana who has referred to me as ‘l-iktar L*** li hemm hemm gew’. …. I humbly ask you to provide protection since this is tantamount to bullying which I consider unacceptable.”

Pullicino told the court that Caruana “did not take ‘no’ for an answer” and used to say that he was as powerful as the minister.

Caruana’s brother, Joseph, the permanent secretary at the education ministry at the time, is now the Commissioner for Inland Revenue.

At the time of the corruption claims, Caruana was busy turning his Rabat house into a massive apartment block.

                           
                               
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makjavel
makjavel
1 month ago

Of course they protest. The judgement given means that all those who think they are employed with the government , have just been told by the court that They Are Not.
All those employed by the various ministers with the fake promise that they are emplyed with th government Now have been told that they are not Government employees.

v zammit
v zammit
1 month ago

The magistrate said that before his employment with the government’s Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools, Edward Caruana (EC) was employed with “a private company”, referring to Resources Support & Services Limited (RSSL). Hence the court argued that EC was not a public officer.
The magistrate may have a point, although she does not seem to know that her point is substantiated in law.
The fact that RSSL employing EC before his time at the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Schools (FTS) is a fully-owned government company completely financed by public funds does not make FSSL a public body or that its employees are public officers.
All depends on the law in this respect, to the effect that the Constitution says that a member of any council, board, panel, committee or other similar body established by or under any law is not a public officer, unless Parliament says so. 
It follows that FSSL is not a public office and that its employees are not public officers.
The AG and the police had better withdraw the appeal.
What is appalling is that this matter was not raised before the magistrate, namely as to whether EC was a public officer or not. If it were, the appellation “public officer” could have been dropped and the case would have proceeded with ED standing as an ordinary employee. In this case the court followed procedure and lost substance and the plot.
Is it too much to expect the accused to be charged afresh simply as an ordinary employee? The case cannot be thrown out on the basis of double jeopardy, because the first case fell through on technicality and not on merit.

Joe Camilleri
Joe Camilleri
1 month ago
Reply to  v zammit

The Point is not if he was a public officer or not. Did he use his position to bribe a contractor?

v zammit
v zammit
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe Camilleri

Agreed. But that was the point for the magistrate.

makjavel
makjavel
1 month ago
Reply to  v zammit

that google translate of Maltese law is not without its black holes.

Joss
Joss
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe Camilleri

Exactly. Is one a burglar, a robber or a thief? They are all thieves!

Raymond Gerada
Raymond Gerada
1 month ago

Well well! The institutions do work afterall.

carlos
1 month ago
Reply to  Raymond Gerada

in favour of the corrupt.

makjavel
makjavel
1 month ago

So this guy is acquited despite there is ample evidence of corruption , simply because he is deemed not being a government employee.
The priest on the other hand , according to the court , but contrary to all evidense produced in court , will be prosecuted . The only evidence provided by the police was the priest’s Passport and ID Card details. All other witnesses declared that they were never swindled by the priest.
Any bets , this all a BIG NOISE to drown the Trasport Malta / Labour Party /Ministers money laundering of driving licence grease money?

Francis Said
Francis Said
1 month ago

It is time for the Administration of Justice, is summoned and decides whether the magistrate in question is capable of not for such a responsibility.
I have always respected the judiciary and the Courts as an independent entity, notwithstanding the Court delays. I have always believed that a member of the Judiciary is the citizens’ democratic safeguard. Unfortunately this should trouble all people of goodwill.

carlos
1 month ago
Reply to  Francis Said

I never respected or trusted the judiciary and pray to God that i never enter the law (sic) courts.

Godfrey Leone Ganado
1 month ago

The judicial courts are becoming like a downtown Valletta market.

James Schembri
James Schembri
1 month ago

Are you sure there is a filed appeal by the police against the judgement delivered last Monday? Such news would be on mainstream media like The Times of Malta and a public memo is issued by the Malta Police Force. In this case, there is nothing of the sort. Just this article.

carlos
1 month ago

nispera li caruana tat-taxxi issa ma jaqbadx ma xi miskin.

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