The Malta Independent 14 November 2018, Wednesday

TMID Editorial: Phone records and brothel accusations - Cardona must come clean

Friday, 7 September 2018, 11:06 Last update: about 3 months ago

It was most gentlemanly and decent of Minister Chris Cardona to have effectively dropped his lawsuit against Daphne Caruana Galizia, which had been assumed by her heirs, last week when he missed the deadline within which he was to reactivate his libel case against Daphne Caruana Galizia.

This was an especially decent gesture considering his past behaviour in the case, when he and his cohort successfully sought over €45,000 in preventive garnishee orders against the journalist before the case was even heard, threatening to financially harass, if not cripple, her for years on end.

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But with the dropping of the lawsuit, in which the minister took objection to having been reported to have visited a brothel in Germany while on government business, there is one very large question mark remaining: did he or didn’t he do that of which he was accused?

Back in January 2017 Caruana Galizia had accused the minister, as well as his aide Joe Gerada, of visiting a brothel in Germany while there on government business, an accusation which both men denied.

The libel case filed by Economy Minister Chris Cardona against Caruana Galizia over the infamous FKK Acapulco claims were unexpectedly cancelled three months back, and the minister had until last Friday to reinstitute the case.

For one reason or another, the minister neglected to do so even though the accusations levelled against him are verging on the murkier of Donald Trump territory.

And that is where it will remain for posterity unless the minister, who professes his innocence so vociferously, finds the ways and means to have his mobile phone records that would show exactly where he was at the times in question, with or without the court case.

It has been reported that since he missed the deadline to reinstitute the court case, the minister will now have to pay the defence’s legal costs.

That, however, may be a small cost by way of comparison to the cost to his reputation, which has undoubtedly taken a beating.

Unless he comes clean and publishes the phone records, this incident will hang over his head for the rest of his political career.

A recent offer by our sister Sunday newspaper to review the mobile phone Transferred Account Procedure (TAP) data, which would conclusively prove the minister’s whereabouts on the day he was accused of having visited a brothel in Germany were ignored by the ministry.

From day one we have been asking the minister and his staff to provide us with some kind of proof that he was not at the brothel as is being alleged- some form of restaurant or bar receipt or some other form of an alibi that would prove he was elsewhere at the time he was accused of being where a government minister clearly has no business being, especially when on government business.

The minister, however, insisted that he has proof in his possession that he was not at the establishment as alleged but that he will wait to present that proof in the courts.

That, however, appears unlikely after the minister dropped the case and, in the process, the onus of making good on those words.

Let us be absolutely clear: this newspaper is not by any stretch of the imagination backing the allegations that the journalist has made in the minister’s respect. 

The issue of those allegations should be settled in a court of law, but after Cardona let the case go, perhaps after it got too hot to handle once the sourcing of his TAP records became a reality, that does not appear likely to happen.

As matters currently stand, this is a case of being guilty until proven innocent – at least in the court of public opinion. It is only Cardona who can prove himself innocent. The ball is in his court.

 

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