Yorgen Fenech claims human rights breach, says Jason Azzopardi's comments are leading to 'trial by media'

Fenech's lawyers are arguing that Azzopardi's comments were continuously breaching his right to a fair hearing

Lawyers for Yorgen Fenech have decried allegations of having coordinated attacks on Caruana Galizia family lawyer Jason Azzopardi, saying that his "continuous comments" were leading to a trial by media and a breach of Fenech's human rights.

In a counter-protest filed today, Fenech says that he had previously filed a judicial protest on 24 August in which he asked that the Commissioner of Police investigate Azzopardi and blogger Manuel Delia as they were publishing allegations which undermined the impartiality of Mr. Justice Giovanni Grixti when he was deliberating on a bail request by Fenech.

Azzopardi claims that Fenech had wanted to eliminate him and had launched a “campaign of hate” against the lawyer. This was categorically denied by Fenech in his counter-protest as an assertion  “purely built on allegations, conjectures and which certainly is not truthful.”

Azzopardi was aware that the conversations which Fenech had with politicians were “purely political in nature” and had nothing to do with a plot or attempt to eliminate Azzopardi, said Fenech’s lawyers. Azzopardi was intent on misleading and tricking the Maltese people by hinting at a very different meaning to Fenech’s WhatsApp chats, they added.

The lawyers pointed out that Azzopardi had “claimed to have been a victim of a campaign of hate…when the same Dr. Jason Azzopardi has been for the past two years continuously, through blog posts on his social media sites, interviews, court sittings and in social situations…mentioning the name of the plaintiff and making false allegations,” whilst Fenech was still presumed innocent.

Azzopardi and his co-participants’ “continuous comments” also targeted Fenech’s legal team, members of the judiciary and others, said the lawyers.

Fenech had suffered in silence, he said, and fully respected the judicial process pending in his regard, whilst Azzopardi’s comments were “continuously breaching his fundamental rights to a fair hearing.”

“Although freedom of expression is a human right, there is a balance that must be scrupulously adhered to where society must not be influenced or conditions in such a way, as happened in this case where Dr. Jason Azzopardi’s comments were making the plaintiff be considered as guilty before the conclusion of the criminal process.”

This constituted a trial by media, said the lawyers, which they said was contrary to what should happen in a democratic society under the rule of law and where the guilt or otherwise of the accused should be determined by the court hearing the case or jurors in cases where the accused is tried by jury.”

The judicial protest ends with a categorical denial of all the allegations made by Azzopardi in his judicial protest and a warning that Azzopardi would be held responsible in damages for any harm he may suffer.

Lawyers Gianluca Caruana Curran, Marion Camilleri and Charles Mercieca signed the counter-protest.