Ar­gu­ment leads Mag­is­trate Depasquale to throw par­ties out of court­room in To­nio Fenech li­bel case

Malta Independent - - NEWS - He­lena Grech

Mag­is­trate Francesco Depasquale yes­ter­day abruptly halted a court sit­ting af­ter both par­ties, and their lawyers, en­tered into a heated ar­gu­ment.

He was hear­ing li­bel pro­ceed­ings in­sti­tuted by Joseph Cor­dina, Carmelo Scerri and Martin Fenech against for­mer finance min­is­ter To­nio Fenech.

Li­bel pro­ceed­ings were ini­ti­ated af­ter Mr Fenech claimed that a for­mer Labour Party fi­nan­cial ad­min­is­tra­tor was di­rectly linked with the Ene­malta oil scan­dal.

While ad­dress­ing the press con­fer­ence in ques­tion, Mr Fenech claimed that Joe Cor­dina, then PL fi­nan­cial ad­min­is­tra­tor, was in­volved in the com­pany owned by oil trader Ge­orge Far­ru­gia, called Aikon Ltd.

Mr Fenech said that af­ter he be­came en­ergy min­is­ter in 2010, he was in pos­ses­sion of a fairly de­tailed re­port, penned by the Au­di­tor Gen­eral, to in­ves­ti­gate the al­leged scan­dal.

Lawyer Paul Lia, ap­pear­ing for those who in­sti­tuted the case, ques­tioned whether Mr Fenech had in­ves­ti­gated the al­le­ga­tions sur­round­ing the oil scan­dal – in view of the fact that he was en­ergy min­is­ter at the time.

To which, Mr Fenech replied that he was a min­is­ter, and not the po­lice.

Lawyer Ian Spiteri Bai­ley, who was rep­re­sent­ing Mr Fenech, in­ter­vened a num­ber of times to cau­tion his coun­ter­part. He re­peat­edly said that the cross-ex­am­i­na­tion should not ex­tend be­yond the case, mean­ing that ques­tions had to be lim­ited to the com­ments made dur­ing the al­legedly defam­a­tory press con­fer­ence and not to em­bark on a whole new in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the oil scan­dal.

Dr Lia pointed out that he could have eas­ily asked for the re­moval of the re­port pre­sented by Mr Fenech, adding that it was not tech­ni­cally ad­mis­si­ble be­cause it was not a sworn doc­u­ment. He ex­plained that it had ac­tu­ally been com­mis­sioned pri­vately by the Far­ru­gia fam­ily.

The court was told that the re­port had been handed by Mr Fenech to the Com­mis­sioner of In­land Rev­enue for in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

It was at this point when the ar­gu­ment be­tween the two sides be­gan to es­ca­late, with loud in­ter­jec­tions and in­ter­rup­tions be­ing con­stantly made. Mag­is­trate Depasquale then de­cided to bring the sit­ting to an end in view of the un­civil be­hav­iour be­ing dis­played.

Lawyers Ian Spiteri Bai­ley and Joseph Zam­mit Maem­pel ap­peared for Mr Fenech.

Lawyer Paul Lia ap­peared for the ap­pli­cants.

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