The Malta Independent 17 October 2019, Thursday

Former minister sues Saviour Balzan for libel

Monday, 23 September 2019, 15:23 Last update: about 23 days ago

MFSA governor Joe Brincat today sued MaltaToday editor Saviour Balzan for libel, after the journalist described the former minister as having a 'shady past'.

Last week Brincat, a former Labour minister, filed a judicial protest against the chief executive of the Malta Financial Services Authority, warning him not to spend money on golden handshakes.

Balzan wrote his comments in a blog titled “The wrong fight on good governance,” in which he referred to the time when Brincat was arrested in Italy over allegations of aiding and abetting a client in trading valuables.

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The Court of Appeal at Catanzaro in 1994 cleared Dr Brincat of any criminal liability, stating that the alleged crime “did not subsist”.

Brincat had later taken his case before the European Court of Human Rights, filing an action against Italy for having been denied a hearing “within a reasonable time.”

In 1998, the ECHR had confirmed that Brincat had been acquitted by the Italian court of appeal “on grounds that no smuggling had been committed,” declaring that his fundamental rights had been breached owing to the “excessive” time of the proceedings.

Balzan wrote that “had it not been for the late Guido de Marco, who was PN justice minister at the time and enjoyed cosy relations with his Italian counterpart, Dr Brincat may well have spent years behind bars.

In a press release following the filing of the libel suit, Dr Brincat also made reference to a comment in the MaltaToday blog inviting him to “speak up” about Nationalist MP Kristy Debono who in spite of being on the Gaming Authority payroll since 2013, “is never seen at the authority.”

“He [Saviour Balzan] ought to know that I have never had anything to do with gaming,” Brincat said.

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