The Malta Independent 26 May 2024, Sunday
View E-Paper

Updated: Judge tells police to probe if publication of Cutajar-Fenech chats breached court secrecy

Wednesday, 22 March 2023, 11:39 Last update: about 2 years ago

A judge has ordered an investigation into possible contempt of court proceedings after author Mark Camilleri published WhatsApp chats between alleged murder mastermind Yorgen Fenech and Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar.

Cutajar’s lawyers wrote to the Attorney General on Wednesday morning arguing that she was obligated to inform the court and request an investigation into the leaked chats.

The judge accepted the request for an investigation but did not uphold Cutajar’s request for Camilleri’s arrest.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cutajar’s lawyers also wrote to the Court of Criminal Appeal on Wednesday asking it to take action against Camilleri for publishing her chats with Yorgen Fenech.

She added that she is considering court action on the grounds of a breach of her right to private and family life and correspondence.

In a sensational blog post yesterday, Camilleri published Cutajar’s unredacted intimate chats with Fenech, who is indicted for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, in all their toe-curling detail.

Cutajar is understood to have delivered her letter to the Attorney General in person, together with her lawyers Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo, this morning.

The letter to the AG states that it is “possible that the chats had been taken from the acts of the criminal proceedings in the names The Republic of Malta vs Yorgen Fenech.” If this is the case, say the lawyers, Camilleri violated sections of the Criminal Code dealing with prohibitions on publishing proceedings.

“This is being said in particular in the context that these are documents that the State has in its sole possession and solely intended as a legal tool given to a State in order to prevent and investigate criminal offences. This would mean that the State allowed documents to be disseminated for purposes extraneous to the same criminal proceedings. This may have been due to a rampant lack of safeguards to protect the interests of third parties.”

Quoting the criminal code, the lawyers said that when the Attorney General or the Police become aware of the publication of any writing in violation of court-imposed prohibitions, they “must inform the court that gave the prohibition order and execute the orders given by that court, verbally or in writing, to bring the offender before the same court, by summons or arrest.

If found guilty of contempt of court, Camilleri could face imprisonment for up to one month and/or a fine of up to €2,329.37.

“From this article it is clear your obligation to inform the Court with this writing that in our opinion, violates this section of the law.”

The urgency of the request was emphasised “because here we are dealing with fundamental rights of third parties that are being manifestly trampled upon.”

The same arguments were also made in Cutajar’s application before the Criminal Court, in addition to a request that the court order the Commissioner of Police to investigate Mark Camilleri and that he be brought before it under arrest.

The Criminal Court is understood to have abstained, however, on the grounds that the acts of the proceedings were currently in the Court of Criminal Appeal's possession. The judge directed Cutajar’s lawyers to address their application to that court, which was subsequently done in a separate application filed on Wednesday morning.

  • don't miss