Court asks whether Prosecution is waiting for accused in oil case to die in order to conclude its evidence
The First Hall of the Civil Court has ordered the Police and the Attorney General to conclude within four months the evidence for the prosecution in the case of Tarcisio Mifsud, one of the persons arraigned in Court in 2013 and charged with corruption in oil purchases by Enemalta between 1998 and 2003.
Mr Justice Francesco Depasquale stated in his decision that this has to be done, irrespective of who else still has to testify. This after the judge declared that the Prosecution and the Attorney General are denying the right to a fair hearing by the former Enemalta official, who at his advanced age has a right to proceedings against him being heard within a reasonable time.
Judge Depasquale said that whilst the criminal case against Mifsud is a very serious one and includes charges which may have very serious implications, both on Mifsud and also on public perception developed over time about Enemalta and the seriousness of the so-called Oil Scandal, this did not mean a person should lose the right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time span.
The Judge observed that 41 sittings had been held over a six-year span, in 29 of which no evidence was presented. The Judge attributed this shortcoming to the Prosecution and the Attorney General who, he stated, had tied the Court’s hands as it had perforce to hear evidence of persons linked to this case.
The Judge further observed that during these years Alfred Mallia had already died, Mallia being one of the four accused, and asked ironically whether the Police are waiting for the other witnesses to die, including Tarcisio Mifsud, in order to conclude their evidence.
The Judge declared that for this reason, the Court wanted to provide a remedy, and whilst stressing it did not want to preclude the Prosecution and Attorney General from presenting their evidence to prove their case, it also considered this should be done within a fixed term so that the Criminal Court can proceed to declare the prosecution evidence stage concluded and hear Mifsud’s evidence if he finds it opportune to present evidence.