Court starts hearing criminal complaint filed by Rosianne Cutajar against author Mark Camilleri

Mark Camilleri is being prosecuted over online taunts and threats aimed at Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar

Rosianne Cutajar (left) filed a police report against former Book Council chairman Mark Camilleri over repeated online taunts
Rosianne Cutajar (left) filed a police report against former Book Council chairman Mark Camilleri over repeated online taunts

A court is to rule whether government critic and author Mark Camilleri has been validly summonsed following a criminal report by Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar. 

Cutajar asked the police to take action against Camilleri, the author of A Rent Seeker’s Paradise, over repeated online insults and threats aimed at her.

Magistrate Simone Grech presided today’s sitting in a Qormi district case filed by the police on Cutajar’s complaint against Camilleri, a former chairman of the National Book Council.

When the case was called this morning, the question arose as to whether Camilleri had been validly summonsed for the sitting. Camilleri’s lawyer, Timothy Spiteri, informed the court that his client was not present in Malta at the moment of notification and has not been on the island since then. Camilleri has in actual fact been residing abroad.

Inspector Marcus Cachia, prosecuting, exhibited the notice of summons which had been delivered to Camilleri’s father’s house.

Lawyer Edward Gatt, appearing for Cutajar, who also attended this morning’s sitting, was admitted as parte civile in the case. Gatt informed the court that he was informed that the summons had been served on Camilleri’s father’s wife.

The court observed that an application had been filed in the acts of the case by Camilleri on 7 April, noting that he had filed it despite not being notified.

Camilleri's lawyer explained that he did not have reliable means of communication with the defendant. “I had contacted the accused who told me that his father received the summons,” the lawyer said.

Gatt had not been served with the application, but after reading it in court, asked that he be permitted to reply immediately.


“This cannot be heard via video conferencing, because here we aren't asking for the presence of a witness, but a defendant. A nefarious defendant who continuously taunts my client,” the lawyer said.

Gatt insisted Camilleri’s application was incorrect and insisted that the address in the electoral register is the address used for the summons. Gatt argued the summons was valid as it had been delivered there and the law speaks of relatives or persons who give services to the accused, as valid recipients of a notice summons. 

“The summons was delivered to Camilleri’s father, said the lawyer, objecting to the video conferencing request. Contrary to that stated in the application, he was validly notified. Besides, jurisprudence dictates that once the accused tables a judicial act in proceedings against him, he has accepted the notification,” Gatt said.

The prosecuting inspector, Marcus Cachia, informed the court that he was in agreement with the parte civile with regards to this objection.

Inspector Cachia, who forms part of the cybercrime unit, testified that the defendant had emailed him on his official police email account, with a similar request.

“That day that the notification was delivered to Mark Camilleri’s residence, Camilleri sent me an email on my work address, to which a photo of the notification was attached. He said that he could not attend the court sitting on that date as he would be working abroad, outside Europe. He gave his lawyer power of attorney.”

The defence asked whether the inspector had communicated with Camilleri before. He had, he said, in connection with this case through email and Camilleri had asked that a meeting be held audio visually.”

The inspector added that he had been informed by his superiors that because of “legal technicalities” it would not be possible to do so.

Spiteri suggested that the reasons for which the request for a virtual meeting had been refused was because the charges would have to be dropped as time barred, soon. The inspector said this was not the case.

Gatt told the court that it is “beyond obvious that the accused is playing for time in order to have the prescriptive period expire and then have a free hand to say what he wants.”

Spiteri asked the court to allow him time to acquaint himself with the documents exhibited today regarding the issue of notification.

The case will continue in May.

Cutajar was on Thursday re-elected to parliament in a casual election. In the last legislature, Cutajar was removed from parliamentary secretary by the Prime Minister after the Standards Commissioner found she breached ethics in a case that highlighted her close relationship with Yorgen Fenech, the man indicted over the murder Daphne Caruana Galizia.