The Malta Independent 15 November 2018, Thursday

Magistrate tells media to report facts based on evidence

Wednesday, 11 July 2018, 15:00 Last update: about 5 months ago

A magistrate has slammed media outlets for misleading the public on the MV Lifeline case. “Things are being reported as facts, when they were comments which did not form part of the evidence which the court will be deciding on,” said magistrate Joe Mifsud in a proclamation this morning.

It wasn’t true that the court had refused a request by defence lawyers Cedric Mifsud, Neil Falzon and Gianluca Cappitta that proceedings be held in English, as had been reported, he said. “It was a person who identified himself as an Italian lawyer who stood up and asked for a translation. He has no right of audience in these proceedings. The court… followed the dispositions of the Judicial Proceedings (Use of the English Language) Act and subarticle (2) of Section 516 of the Criminal Code.”

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Yesterday’s sitting was held on board the Lifeline itself, after the magistrate held a site visit as part of his inquiry. At the same time an application presented by captain Claus-Peter Reisch in which he asked to be allowed bail to visit his 92 year-old mother was discussed.

“This was all agreed between the defence and the prosecution and coordinated with Captain Reisch,” explained the magistrate, clarifying that only court experts and one Dutch shipping registrar representative were still to testify.

“And if some members of the crew of the MV Lifeline, as reported in the Shift News went to Court in Valletta for the sitting, it was because of a lack of communication between them and their colleagues, amongst them Claus-Peter Reisch,” said the court, pointedly. 

The captain had been informed of the arrangements made to facilitate those involved.

The magistrate ended with a veiled threat to those who would misrepresent his words, warning that the Press Act prohibited legal action being taken against publications on court proceedings “as long as the reports are faithful accounts of the proceedings.”

 

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