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