Maltese EU official accused of slurs faces court at last

Times of Malta |


European Union administrator Stefan Grech is facing court action two years after he allegedly assaulted a European Council employee and hurled “anti-Jewish insults” at her, the Times of Malta has learnt.

Joel Rubinfeld, who heads the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, said yesterday that court proceedings had finally been initiated in Brussels in connection with an incident during which Mr Grech allegedly beat a senior employee, an Italian woman, over the head with a plaque commemorating Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

The woman is also claiming Mr Grech called her “a dirty Jew” and later said that “Hitler should have finished off the Jews”.

“Yes, the case has finally made it to the courts, and Mr Grech was not even present at the preliminary hearing, which, the judge commented, demonstrated a lack of respect towards the courts,” Mr Rubinfeld said.

Contacted yesterday, Mr Grech said the alleged victim’s version of events was grossly exaggerated and did not reflect what had actually happened.

He said the case had affected him so much he had taken about six months sick leave and sought counselling from a psychologist.

“There was an incident. I had too much to drink and got into an argument, but I am no racist and I did not lash out in the way that is being alleged,” Mr Grech said.

Mr Rubinfeld said Belgian journalists were in possession of CCTV footage of the incident, which happened in one of Brussels’ most popular plazas – Luxembourg Square – right outside the European Commission offices.

Mr Grech denied any knowledge of a recording of the incident and accused Mr Rubinfeld of being a known bully who often engaged in “witch-hunts to prove a point”. In 2015, when the incident was first reported, Mr Grech told the Times of Malta he had been “out celebrating 10 years working with the European Commission and had been drinking mojitos from 7pm till about midnight when all this happened”.

The Belgian police said an investigation had been opened but would not comment on its findings. Mr Grech is also the subject of an internal investigation by the Commission.

It decided not to suspend him pending the inquiry results but noted it would not tolerate such behaviour if the allegations turned out to be founded.

Questions sent to the Commission yesterday remained unanswered at the time of writing.

This is not Mr Grech’s first brush with the law. In 2002, he was found guilty by a Maltese court of owning and distributing child pornography and handed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Asked whether it had been aware of this conviction prior to employing Mr Grech, a Commission spokesman said that he had submitted a clean criminal record when applying for the post in 2004. Mr Grech said, however, that not only had he informed the Commission of his conviction prior to being hired but had it in writing.

He added that it had been mentioned during a meeting on Thursday with his superiors about the alleged 2015 assault.

Asked what had led to the incident, Mr Grech said he had started discussing politics with a group of Italians at a bar and “things escalated”.

IVAN MARTIN

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