MaltaToday | 18 May 2008 | Minister gives no hints on prolonged Mistra investigation

NEWS | Sunday, 18 May 2008

Minister gives no hints on prolonged Mistra investigation

Matthew Vella

Justice and Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici has expressed no intention on commenting on the as yet unfinalised investigation into the Mistra scandal, which implicates Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando in an alleged attempt at exerting influence on the decision to issue a permit for a disco on his land in Mistra.
Mifsud Bonnici told MaltaToday the investigation has to take its due course and was still ongoing. “In terms of law, this matter is to be dealt with by the Attorney General’s Office and the Police Corps and the Minister of Justice and Home Affairs has no standing in it,” he said.
But the investigation has been characterised by a blanket of silence as no information has been released on the state of play of the inquiry, and whether the police investigation has yet been finalised and presented to the Office of the Attorney General.
Indeed, both the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police have refused to comment on what stage the investigation is presently in, since One News first reported that the police had handed the investigation to the AG’s office; further fuelling public perception that the investigation is being deliberately delayed.
The Pullicino Orlando controversy erupted in the last week of the March election, when Labour leader Alfred Sant alleged the MP’s land in Mistra had been earmarked for a mega-disco in what was an ecologically sensitive area.
While Sant alleged corruption in the issuing of the MEPA permit for the disco, Pullicino Orlando has been questioned by police on exerting influence in the decision-making process.
But the MP is notorious for having denied any knowledge of the project at the time of the revelations. Labour later publicised a MEPA consent form that proved the MP’s knowledge that a planning application had been lodged on his land by a third party.
In later revelations, a consultant for the Malta Tourism Authority said he had been “collared” by Pullicino Orlando to be present for a meeting at the MEPA offices discussing the Mistra development, in which he was expected to draw up a report on behalf of the MTA.
Pullicino Orlando has again claimed to another newspaper that he never lied to anyone whenever he spoke of the Mistra project, and said he does not know who the developer – Tattingers’ disco owner Domenic Micallef – is.
Pullicino Orlando claims he rented out the land to Micallef, whose cousin Ian Sultana later submitted a development application. He however believes the project will enhance the area: “I think the area will be improved and I honestly believe Mistra is ideal for this type of development, considering its distance from inhabited areas. Besides, the focused sound system would mean that sound would be able to be focused on the dance floor alone. Even people sitting at a table, or standing at the bar would not be disturbed by loud sound,” he said, displaying his intimate knowledge of the details concerning the disco.
Pullicino Orlando has previously organised constituents’ parties at Tattingers, publishing photos of the events on his personal website.

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