[WATCH] Minister in brothel allegations: ‘I can prove I was not there’

PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami says he does not believe Cardona and that he immediately took the initial reports to be true

paul_cocks
Paul Cocks
2 February 2017, 9:30pm
Chris Cardona (right) said he would present evidence of his whereabouts in a court of law. Also pictured are Beppe Fenech Adami (left) and inset, Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Chris Cardona (right) said he would present evidence of his whereabouts in a court of law. Also pictured are Beppe Fenech Adami (left) and inset, Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The minister involved in allegations of having visited a German brothel in Velbert while on official business this week, has insisted he can – and will – prove the allegations false.

Minister for the economy Chris Cardona said on TVM’s Xtra that he would wait until he defends the “series of libel cases [he was] instituting” to present documentary evidence of his whereabouts on the days and times he was allegedly in a brothel.

The Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia has claimed she has proof, passed on to her from a source in Germany, that Cardona visited the FKK Acapulco club on Monday, where she alleged the minister and his EU policy offier Joe Gerada contracted a prostitute.

“I have proof, contrary to who made the allegations,” he said. “And you also need to know that we are aware of two people sent to Germany by the PN leadership, who are offering money for anyone willing to testify against me.”

He said Caruana Galizia, who did not take up an offer for a phone-in to the programme, “was doing the most harm to journalism”.

Cardona has denied visiting the brothel, or having taken part in any other activity outside of official appointments, while in Germany. “Do you really think I don’t know what I’ve got to lose here?” he said. “If I had actually done this, I could very well have come back, acknowledged my bad judgement and admit to having been to a brothel, since such activities are not illegal in Germany.”

His statement did not go down well with the other guest on the programme.

Beppe Fenech Adami, deputy leader of the Nationalist Party, insisted he did not believe Cardona and that – on the contrary – he immediately took the allegations to be true.

“Because I know Chris Cardona, I believe Caruana Galizia’s reports,” he said. “If she had published this story about someone else, like [foreign minister] George Vella, no one would have believed it to be true, because people know Vella.”

“But even Cardona’s friends on Facebook do not seem surprised or appalled by the allegations, writing that he is ‘only human’ or ask ‘so what if Chris made a mistake’?”

Cardona asked Fenech Adami if he had also believed Caruana Galizia’s blogs on the PN’s other deputy leader, Mario de Marco, whom she accused of not pulling his weight inside the party and called on to step down.

Fenech Adami said that he had not believed those reports. “I did not believe the blogs on Mario because I know Mario,” he said. “Just like I believed the blogs about you because I know you.”

Fenech Adami said that the behaviour of the minister and his consultant after the story broke, further convinced him that the story was true. “Before the second man was even identified, Gerada had already deleted his Facebook page,” he pointed out. “They went through 12 hours of panic, that much was obvious.”

Cardona challenged Fenech Adami to repeat the allegations, threatening him with a libel suit. Fenech Adami said that Caruana Galizia had reported that she had the evidence to prove her allegations.

Fenech Adami (left) and Cardona traded barbs and accusations
Fenech Adami (left) and Cardona traded barbs and accusations
He also reminded Cardona that he had already been called to answer for a €700 alcohol bill he and his assistant spent on a 3-day official visit to Dubai. “Were you with the same room with him when that alcohol was consumed?” Fenech Adami asked the minister. “And did you have any other guest in the room with you?”

When asked what he would do if it resulted that the allegations against Cardona were proven to be false, Fenech Adami insisted that no one was believing the minister.

“What do you expect him to do?” Cardona interjected. “He will go to church the next morning, as if nothing had happened. But I will defend my integrity, and as everyone knows, I never run away from the media or any sort of questioning,” he said.

Consultant backs minister and denies allegations

In a phone-in during the programme, Cardona’s consultant, lawyer Joe Gerada, denied the allegations and strongly insisted he had never visited FKK Acapulco.

He said that when the reports had placed him and the minister visited the brothel the first, they were in fact already at the hotel. The minister confirmed, saying he himself was in fact already asleep.

Gerada said that some friends of his had called him to advise him of the blog and that he had even sent his map location through his mobile to some of his friends to show them he was at the hotel.

“And in the case of the second instance, a driver dropped the minister and I at the building where the meetings were being held and collected us again late that night,” Gerada said.

He said these allegations had affected him professionally, as well as harming his personal life. “A lot of harm has been done, but this is how this person operates,” he said.

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Paul Cocks joined MaltaToday after having spent years working in newspapers with The Times...