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MALTATODAY 20 November 2022

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2 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 20 NOVEMBER 2022 NEWS MATTHEW VELLA THE former Nationalist MP Ja- son Azzopardi has accused Op- position leader Bernard Grech of "placing him under a fatwa", and that under his leadership the party tried to encourage him to resign or not contest the 2022 election. Azzopardi, speaking to An- drew Azzopardi yesterday on 103FM, said a member from the PN's strategy group had approached him in 2021, re- questing him to resign his seat "so that the party can advance in the polls... winning 15,000 votes just like that." "I could have thrown this per- son right out the balcony win- dow," Azzopardi said. "They told me I was a burden, toxic, a dead-weight, that the PN would advance in the polls if I stand down." Azzopardi failed to get re-elected in 2022. Azzopardi also said Bernard Grech, whom he claims demot- ed him from his traditional jus- tice portfolio in a bid to sideline him, was the only person not to send him a message of support when he was threatened in an open court by Caruana Galizia murderer George Degiorgio 'iċ- Ċiniż'. "Even Labour MPs sent me messages of support... Simon Busuttil was constantly calling on me... Bernard Grech was the only one who did not send me a message of support," Azzopardi said. Azzopardi also blamed the newly-elected MP Mark An- thony Sammut, who was elect- ed on his same fourth district constituency, of failing to de- fend him in a TV debate when then-minister Carmelo Abela claimed Azzopardi was "in bed with criminals". "Mark Anthony Sammut did not defend me once. Us oldtim- ers – us with the genuine, hon- est, correct PN DNA – we stick up for each other... "And I know for a fact that Sammut had instructions from someone inside the PN's infor- mation office, not to defend me should my name crop up in the programme." Azzopardi had claimed that Carmelo Abela had been of- fered €300,000 for informa- tion on HSBC access cards and internal footage of the bank. Abela was a manager at HSBC in 2010 when armed men en- tered the bank's headquarters in Qormi after overpowering security. The heist was not successful after police on patrol got sus- picious when they spotted the getaway car outside the bank. Abela has sued Azzopardi for libel. He has denied ever know- ing the criminals alleging he was involved in the failed HSBC bank heist 11 years ago. Azzopardi: PN wanted me to resign Pilatus could use ICSID to spike prosecution Former Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi: "They told me I was a burden, toxic, a dead-weight, that the PN would advance in the polls if I stand down." CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 The first request, directed at former Pilatus controller Law- rence Connell, was dismissed in May 2021 by a US court. Meanwhile, the second request concerning Connell's replace- ment, Elizabeth McCaul, who had originally selected Connell on behalf of the Maltese au- thorities, continues. Pilatus's lawyers insist this type of discovery request is necessary for its arbitration case against Malta in the World Bank's International Centre for the Settlement of Investor Dis- putes (ICSID). In September 2022, Alpene filed a request to the ICSID for provisional measures, prompt- ing the tribunal to issue a de- cision in this regard on 14 Sep- tember, 2022. But while the contents of this decision re- main undisclosed, they are un- derstood to have "recommend- ed" the halting of all related criminal proceedings brought against the bank by Malta, un- til a decision on Alpene's case against Malta is delivered by ICSID. So Alpene filed a renewed re- quest for provisional measures on 3 November, and in its lat- est submission to the US courts asked that its case for a motion of discovery on Connell, be heard afresh. Significantly, it argued that ICSID tribunals are "clothed in governmental authority" being run by States to acts as a "per- manent, State-backed institu- tion for the resolution of inves- tor-State disputes", and that its decisions could not be ignored by a member state's domestic court. But how does this affect Mal- tese proceedings? The NGO Repubblika, through its lawyer Jason Azzo- pardi, had filed Constitutional proceedings, alleging that At- torney General Victoria Butti- gieg had issued what is known as a nolle prosequi – an order not to prosecute – for Pilatus Bank owner Ali Sadr Hashem- inejad, its operations super- visor Luis Rivera, the bank's director Ghambari Hamidreza and bank official Mehmet Tas- li. Buttigieg and FCID police inspector Pauline D'Amato had been ordered to testify about this, but both witnesses told the court they could not comply with the order... citing amongst other things, the con- fidentiality of the pending IC- SID proceedings. Mr. Justice Christian Falzon Scerri had rejected this argu- ment, and noted that no order or decision was brought to pre- vent his court from continuing with the case. The two witnesses subse- quently appeared before the judge on 8 November, but re- quested to testify behind closed doors and that any documents be kept confidential, invoking the "privileged" nature of the ICSID arbitration proceedings. The two witnesses reported- ly requested to testify behind closed doors, invoking the "privileged" nature of the IC- SID arbitration proceedings, with Judge Scerri commenting he would have to abide by the order of such an organ. That case continues in Janu- ary. Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg issued what is known as a nolle prosequi – an order not to prosecute – for Pilatus Bank owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad (pictured), its operations supervisor Luis Rivera, the bank's director Ghambari Hamidreza and bank official Mehmet Tasli

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