The Malta Independent 5 August 2021, Thursday

‘Two-fingered salute’ as €69,500 collected for Caruana Galizia libel fund

Helena Grech Saturday, 11 February 2017, 10:30 Last update: about 5 years ago

A crowd-funding website, as well as donations made in person, has managed to generate €69,500 for journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia after a warrant of seizure for maximum libel damages in Economy Minister Cardona libel cases was accepted by the courts.

Mrs Caruana Galizia alleged that while Dr Chris Cardona was on an official visit to Germany, along with his policy coordinator Joe Gerada, they visited a brothel in Velbert named FKK Acapulco, inclusive of a multiple details but no pictures. Mrs Caruana Galizia has relied on a source who allegedly spotted the pair in the brothel.

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In response, Dr Cardona and Dr Gerada filed two libel cases each, and also filed a motion for the maximum damages – at €11,500 – to be seized as a precautionary measure. This effectively means that Mrs Caruana Galizia had €47,000 frozen in her bank accounts.

Some €59,000 was generated on a crowd funding website, while the remainder was given to her in person or through people reaching out to family, Mrs Caruana Galizia wrote on her website.

Multiple sections of society, inclusive of the Nationalist Party, the Institute for Maltese Journalists, the Malta Humanist Associations and all local independent press have condemned this act as a threat to freedom of expression. While many have expressed that they do not fully support the style of Mrs Caruana Galizia in her blogs, all have condemned the threat of financial insecurity in order to silence a journalist, more so in the light of the fact that she has not been found guilty (or innocent) as there has not been one single hearing in relation to the four libel cases.

In a blog entry thanking all those who donated, she called the success of managing to generate the funds required for the warrant of seizure as well as legal fees as a “two –fingered salute” to Dr Cardona and Dr Gerada.

Dr Cardona had issued a statement, after the news broke of the warrant of seizure being approved, saying that other journalists need not worry, on the contrary they should be encouraged to carry out their duties. He said that Mrs Caruana Galizia is a blogger who writes baseless, fabricated reports with the sole purpose of spreading hatred and hurting those who do not share her political beliefs.

What he failed to address is the precedent this has set of a politician attempting to silence a journalist by financially ruining them. While he has declared he would not issue a warrant of seizure, or garnishee order, against other members of the press, this does not guarantee that other politicians, from whichever side of the political divide they belong to, would not make use of the same legal tool.

 

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