The case against restaurateurs Florinda Sultana and Albert Buttigieg, who are both charged with money laundering, had to be postponed after the prosecution failed to turn up in court on Monday.
Sultana and Buttigieg were, along with their lawyer Stefano Filletti and Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech who is hearing the case, left waiting for half an hour when nobody from the prosecution benches turned up – at which point the magistrate, quite irritated at this point, postponed the sitting.
The magistrate “deplored” the shortcomings from the prosecution’s end, insisting an explanation be given within 24 hours and to why it failed to show up. “Not even police officials showed up,” she remarked.
Sultana and Buttigieg are charged with involvement in a number of companies operating the restaurants, Porticello – formerly Scoglitti – in Valletta, and Capo Mulini in Marsaxlokk.
Both restaurants are alleged to be linked to the laundering of money from oil smuggling.
The pair have been connected to a large-scale anti-smuggling operation which saw the arrests and subsequent arraignments of of ex-footballers Darren Debono and Jeffrey Chetcuti, and their auditor Chris Baldacchino. Fuel trader and Debono’s business partner Gordon Debono was also charged.
During previous sittings, the magistrate heard how Sultana and her holding company were not allowed to open bank accounts by local banks, with the restaurant operating on a cash-only basis.
Both accused are denying the charges.