Prime Minister Joseph Muscat takes witness stand in case against Gaffarena
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat yesterday took the witness stand in the case the government filed against Marco Gafferna over the property transfer in Old Mint Street. Dr Muscat was accompanied by the Attorney General, who is appearing for the PM.
Quizzed by lawyer Keith Bonnici over his intentions in filing this case, the Prime Minister said that he was not involved in the actual signing of contracts and land concessions. He said that this falls under the responsibility of the Parliamentary Secretary for Lands.
Dr Bonnici kept asking who the person ultimately responsible was, once the case in concluded, but Judge Anna Felice kept stopping the lawyer, telling him that the hearing today was not a platform to discuss the country’s laws.
“Who would the Minister responsible be?” the lawyer asked, while the Prime Minister insisted that through his role, he only gives general direction and that the political responsibility will fall under a person chosen by him who, in turn responds to the OPM.
Dr Muscat said that he filed the case as a Member of Parliament. He claimed he came to know of this case through the media.
“I don’t doubt the political genuineness of Michael Falzon,” he added.
Dr Bonnici then asked against whom the case was filed? But the Judge said that these details are already available.
“But he is still not replying to the question, of who will carry the responsibility once the case is concluded,” the lawyer insisted.
The Prime Minister said that the political responsibility had already been shouldered by Dr Michael Falzon, who at the time served as the Parliamentary Secretary for Lands.
“I decided to file the case for two reasons; because the valuation of the land in Old Mint Street was being questioned and because the Auditor General had flagged certain misgivings.”
Dr Muscat was the last witness to appear in the case against Mr Gaffarena and his wife.
The case had originally been filed by Dr Muscat against Marco Gaffarena and his wife for the revocation of the transfer of property.
The Gaffarenas had acquired a one-half undivided share of a palazzo in Old Mint Street which was then expropriated by the government. The couple was compensated to the tune of €3.4 million.
The case had cost the cabinet seat of Dr Michael Falzon after it emerged that Mr Gaffarena was dealing with a member of his (Falzon’s) secretariat.