The Malta Independent 14 October 2019, Monday

Fr Charles Fenech testifies in clerical abuse compensation case, court revokes fine

Neil Camilleri Thursday, 24 September 2015, 11:42 Last update: about 5 years ago

Fr Charles Fenech this morning testified in a court case in which the victims of sex abuse carried out by catholic priests are calling for compensation. Fr Fenech, who is himself charged with sexual abuse in separate proceedings, had failed to turn up when summoned last week for the compensation case.

Laurence Grech and Philip Cauchi are calling on the Constitutional Court to stop Mr Justice Joseph Micallef from presiding over the civil case for compensation because he is involved in the institution that abused them. The judge is the President of the Dominican Order-owned Radju Marija. This, according to Mr Grech and Mr Cauchi, puts his impartiality in question.

Last week, Mr Justice Mark Chetcuti fined Fr Charles Fenech, who is the founder of Radju Marija, €150 for contempt of court. He also ordered the police to arrest the priest and bring him to the next sitting. Today the court heard how Fr Fenech had not turned up in court because of a misunderstanding with his lawyer Dr Franco Galea. The court revoked the fine imposed.

Testifying today, Fr Fenech said Radju Marija was set up to convey the message of the Catholic Church, insisting it did not have any political or marketing content. Lay people managed the radio station. The president – until last October Judge Joseph R Micallef – took care of administrative work.

Fr Fenech said that, while he still worked at the radio station, he took care of programme content and the administration had no say over who was invited for the programmes.

The priest is facing separate proceedings in which he is charged with sex abuse after a woman alleged that he had taken advantage of her frail mental state. She claims that the relationship spanned over a number of years and started while she was being treated at Mount Carmel Hospital. Fr Fenech denies the claims.

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