I am publishing two comments made by Tony Gaffiero. I invite the readers of this blog to read them well. They express the danger that Edwina Grima’s sentence posits to freedom of speech in Malta. Fr. David Muscat was not condemned on facts but on the personal aptitude or attitude of the judge because she felt morally convinced that the intentions of Fr. Muscat’s comments were to cause harm. As a historian, I would like to remind the reader that the Inquisitors sent poor people to the gallows because they were morally convinced that what they were doing was on the right side of history and the poor chaps were wrong. I want to remind the readers that Adolf Hitler was morally convinced that the Jews should all be exterminated because they were all rats. History showed he was morally wrong, but Europe needed to win the war to prove it.
Let us not forget that a court in Berlin condemned Marinus Van der Lubbe to the death penalty after Judge Wilhelm Bürger felt that he was morally convinced that Van der Lubbe was the man who had set the German Reichstag on fire in 1933. Now, it is confirmed that he was a victim of Nazi propaganda and was innocently condemned to death. The Reichstag was set on fire by the Nazis themselves. In 2008, Van der Lubbe was posthumously absolved on the principle that the Nazi law, on which he was condemned, “went against the basic ideas of justice”.
Judgement cannot be made on personal convictions. If a judgement is made on personal convictions, there is no need for a court or the compilation of evidence. We can go back to the Stalinist system, where the judgement was made on the personal bias of the people, or resort to Pontius Pilate’s method of securing justice.
Sorry to say it, but this sentence of the court of appeal is a serious threat to freedom of expression. It leaves much to be desired. Now, any judge can use Edwina Grima’s argument and condemn persons on the fact that he or she feels morally convinced that the accused is guilty, even though the prosecution does not produce any evidence to prove the case.