In true dra­co­nian fash­ion, the po­lice file crim­i­nal li­bel pro­ceed­ings against TMIS ed­i­tor

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE -

Just as the gov­ern­ment an­nounced its in­ten­tion to do away with crim­i­nal li­bel once and for all, the po­lice, at the be­hest of gov­ern­ment func­tionary Neville Gafà and his lawyer – former po­lice com­mis­sioner Peter Paul Zam­mit, have in­sti­tuted crim­i­nal li­bel pro­ceed­ings against the ed­i­tor of this news­pa­per.

The crim­i­nal li­bel has been filed as a re­sult of this news­pa­per hav­ing car­ried a right of re­ply from Mr Gafà not as a sep­a­rate news item on its front page,

but, rather, for hav­ing in­cor­po­rated the right of re­ply into a length­ier ar­ti­cle. Mr Gafà’s right of re­ply was nev­er­the­less re­pro­duced in full in both the ar­ti­cle in ques­tion as well as in our daily edi­tion and on our in­ter­net por­tal.

But even though Mr Gafà’s en­tire right of re­ply had been car­ried faith­fully within the ar­ti­cle in ques­tion, it seems that Mr Gafà and Dr Zam­mit are leav­ing no stone un­turned in their ef­forts to gag this news­pa­per over the med­i­cal visas scan­dal.

Such means of in­tim­i­da­tion will not work, at least not with this news­pa­per.

The charge of crim­i­nal li­bel is the third case Mr Gafà has opened against this news­pa­per – the other two be­ing standard li­bel cases – af­ter we blew the lid off the med­i­cal visas scam that was, ac­cord­ing to our mul­ti­ple sources, be­ing co­or­di­nated by Mr Gafà for per­sonal profit.

A crim­i­nal li­bel dif­fers from a nor­mal li­bel case in that the former could re­sult in a prison sen­tence while the lat­ter could re­sult in an or­der for mon­e­tary com­pen­sa­tion.

It is truly in­cred­i­ble that, hot on the heels of the gov­ern­ment hav­ing an­nounced its in­ten­tion to strike crim­i­nal li­bel from the statute books for good and will be­gin do­ing so as from the be­gin­ning of the par­lia­men­tary sea­son to­mor­row, a gov­ern­ment em­ployee would re­sort to such dra­co­nian mea­sures.

In fact, the first read­ing of a bill de­crim­i­nal­is­ing crim­i­nal li­bel will take place when Par­lia­ment re­sumes to­mor­row (10 Oc­to­ber), the gov­ern­ment re­cently an­nounced. It was re­act­ing to a state­ment by the In­sti­tute of Jour­nal­ists calling on the gov­ern­ment to re­move crim­i­nal li­bel from Mal­tese law.

In a state­ment, the gov­ern­ment said that af­ter the new laws re­lat­ing to artis­tic ex­pres­sion were en­acted ear­lier in this leg­is­la­ture, the next step is to deal with free­dom of jour­nal­is­tic ex­pres­sion.

The bill to de­crim­i­nalise li­bel has also been ap­proved by the Cabi­net of Min­is­ters.

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