The Court of Appeal overturned the sentence handed down in 2021 regarding a libel case made by Raphael Vassallo of Malta Today against blogger Manuel Delia. The Court of Appeal reversed the decision and fined Manuel Delia 1000 Euro for damages. This was a case where Vassallo sued Manuel Delia for putting up a post wherein, he (Delia) stated that Vassallo was in league with the Mafia who killed Daphne Caruana Galizia.
What is he highlight in this case is not the Court of Appeal’s decision but that in the court of Appeal’s sentence it completely overturned Magistrate Montebello’s sentence. Judge Lawrence Mintoff, who presided this case, made several comments on Magistrate Rachel Montebello’s sentence. When Magistrate Rachel Montebello pronounced her judgement, she declared that Manuel Delia had every right to state that Daphne Caruana Galizia had been killed by an underground criminal organization and this criminal organization is given a helping hand even by journalists. The fact is that, to date, this has never been proven.
Judge Mintoff declared that he does not agree with Magistrate Montebello’s decision that Manuel Delia’s comments was “fair” and that he had expressed an honest opinion and was right. While asserting the right to freedom of speech, Judge Mintoff did not agree either with what Montebello stated here i.e. Manuel Delia had the right to express his opinion in the manner he did because it was in the public interest and this was important to safeguard the right and freedom of speech. The judge remarked that Montebello’s argument referred to what is said in Court but this does not hold for what is said on social media where messages and articles like those of Manuel Delia are read in completely different context to the way they are read in court.
I can well understand Judge Lawrence Mintoff’s point of view. Jason Azzopardi, who is Manuel Delia‘s buddy, had filed a petition on behalf of the Caruana Galizia family, to Magistrate Montebello, whereby he insinuated that I formed part of a criminal organization. This can be stated within the context of the law courts even though Azzopardi was careful to use the word “:apparently” which is synonymous with probable! Rachel Montebello agreed with Jason Azzopardi and placed me under contempt of court. In reality, this case continues confirming that Montebello is not an impartial magistrate but is locked up with the dirty interests of the Caruana Galizia family.
The judge Mintoff did not hesitate to give his opinion regarding Magistrate Montebello’s decisions. When this happens and the Court of Appeal comes out against a decision given in the Court of First Instance, this indicates that there are serious shortcomings on the part of the magistrate who handed down such a sentence.
Here Judge Mintoff explicitly mentioned Magistrate Montebello’s shortcomings or better still her lack of impartiality in matters connected with the Caruana Galizia family and all those supporting its cause.