By Martin Banks - 20th November 2012
It's going to be close run thing
EU parliament source
Former EU commissioner John Dalli has spent nearly 34 hours at a police station in Malta being questioned over alleged attempts to illegally alter draft EU legislation, it has emerged.
Dalli was quizzed over his role in the 'Dalligate' saga, in which an associate of the former health commissioner is said to have offered a bribe in return for altering the draft EU tobacco products directive.
The EU anti-fraud office, Olaf, said that the associate, Silvio Zammit, asked tobacco company Swedish Match for a €60m bribe in return for Dalli lifting the EU ban on snus, a smokeless form of tobacco that currently is only sold in Sweden.
Olaf said there was circumstantial evidence showing that Dalli had known about the attempted bribe.
As part of a judicial inquiry into the case, Dalli was summoned to police headquarters in the Maltese city Floriana last week.
He left some 34 hours later having apparently himself insisted on the questioning to continue.
Newspaper reports in Malta said Dalli remained at the station "because he chose to have the interrogation continue uninterrupted".
The police inquiry is also looking into the role of lawyer Gayle Kimberley, who represented Swedish Match in Malta.
Dalli, who quit his commission post last month, insists he has done nothing wrong. He has threatened legal action against both Olaf and the commission.
The questioning took place at the same time as Dalli's would-be successor as health commissioner, Tonio Borg, was being quizzed in parliament over his suitability for the post.
MEPs voted on Wednesday on his nomination.
A parliamentary insider said, "MEPs are split. It's going to be close run thing."