Judge rules ONE interview with murder victim's mother can go ahead

A court has lifted an injunction stopping ONE TV from airing an interview with Miriam Chetcuti, the mother of murder victim Chantelle Chetcuti

A court has lifted an injunction stopping ONE TV from airing an interview with Miriam Chetcuti, the mother of murder victim Chantelle Chetcuti.

Chantelle Chetcuti, a mother of two, died in 2020 after she was stabbed in the head, allegedly by her ex-partner Justin Borg, who has since been indicted for homicide.

Borg’s lawyers had filed for an injunction against ONE Productions and “Awla” presenter Luke Dalli, stopping them from broadcasting Dalli’s interview with the victim’s mother.

Borg had claimed that he would suffer prejudice if the murder was discussed during the show.

In a decision handed down today, the First Hall of the Civil Court presided by madam justice Anna Felice, turned down Borg’s request for an injunction.

The judge observed that the essence of the issue was the essential balance between the accused’s right to be presumed innocent as part of his right to a fair trial and, on the other hand, the freedom of expression enjoyed both by the broadcaster and the victim.

“This balance is particularly sensitive in a small country like Malta, where issues of local interest necessarily take on an appearance of national interest, and where it is practically always impossible to find jurors who are completely devoid of information about the case which they are called upon to judge.”

Another factor at play was the right and obligation of broadcasters to provide information, particularly in cases that had sparked a lot of interest from the public, said Felice.

In its brief judgment, the court also made reference to subsidiary legislation regulating reporting on pending criminal proceedings in court, as well as guidelines from the European Court of Human Rights.

Madam justice Felice pointed out that the case at issue dealt with a “promo” clip with a duration of just seconds, which had been published on the program’s Facebook page. The content of the program itself was not yet publicly known, said the judge, adding that after seeing the clip, it found nothing which could prejudice Borg’s rights.

“The fact alone that he is mentioned in the context of a program about murders, in general, cannot be taken as in breach of his rights a priori,” ruled the judge, rejecting the request for the injunction, before pointedly going on to augur that the whole program deals with the issue with a “total respect” to rights.

Lawyer Matthew Paris appeared for Dalli, whilst lawyers Carlos Bugeja and Rene Darmanin represented Borg in the proceedings. 

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