Jason Azzopardi’s partner: ‘Anonymous poison-pen letters made me paranoid’

Flavia Borg Bonaci, Jason Azzopardi’s partner, has told the court how poisonous anonymous letters sent to her house affected her wellbeing, making her paranoid and forcing her to look over her shoulder

Anonymous letters full of offensive and vitriolic language were posted to several Opposition politicians and activists, including some relatives of them
Anonymous letters full of offensive and vitriolic language were posted to several Opposition politicians and activists, including some relatives of them

Jason Azzopardi’s partner has recounted how she became paranoid and suffered sleepless nights following a series of abusive anonymous letters sent to her house.

Flavia Borg Bonaci was testifying in court proceedings against Joseph Mary Borg, a 71-year-old Valletta resident, who stands charged with sending countless anonymous letters to several politicians and activists.

Borg Bonaci said the first letter arrived in her mailbox in July last year. “It was a big shock, the first time. I had to sit down. I couldn’t believe the obscenity I was reading,” she told the court.

The situation was made worse because the letter had been sent to her private residence, she added. “I became paranoid that someone was following me around.”

Borg Bonaci said that in the first letter she was described as a “filthy” person but in the next six letters that followed the insults became worse and were also directed towards other members of her family, including her dead grandmother.

“The person writing those letters obviously hated my partner, Jason [Azzopardi], who at the time was a vociferous Opposition MP,” Borg Bonaci testified. “I was the only partner of a PN politician who was targeted.”

She said that before the letters started to arrive, she had been the subject of a 50-minute TV programme on ONE TV presented by Karl Stagno Navarra. “It was character assassination,” Borg Bonaci said, adding that the anonymous letters followed afterwards.

“I sometimes used to wake up at night to look out from my balcony to see if someone was lurking around… I was scared of opening the letterbox and used to look over my shoulder while walking,” she recounted.

Borg Bonaci specified that the letter writer used to refer to her by the family nickname and called her “sewage” and a “whore”.

“This person knew everything about me: where I lived, my father’s shop and everything else,” she said, adding the indications were the anonymous person was from her hometown, Valletta, and knew her family background.

Asked whether she knew the accused, Borg Bonaci said she did not but could identify him as someone who used to pass by her father’s shop.

She said that Azzopardi had convinced her to throw the letters away to avoid prolonging the negative impact they were having on her. “But I kept the first letter… I opened all letters and read them all,” she said.

The next person to testify was PN MP Karol Aquilina, who had received three similar letters written in the same calligraphy.

Aquilina said that he normally received the letters at parliament or at PN headquarters after some speech he would have delivered.

However, he told the court that one of the letters had made reference to a meeting he had on a Sunday morning in a Valletta cafeteria with Jason Azzopardi and David Casa in which they were discussing a court case.

Things became more sinister, he testified, when in August last year, an envelope with distinctive writing, was posted to his private residence and which was addressed to his brother Robert, who is president of civil society group Repubblika, and who lives in the vicinity. “I smelt there was something wrong and when my brother came to pick up the letter and opened it, it contained absolute evil… it mentioned me [Karol], our dead father and mother in law, and our children,” Aquilina said.

The letter worried him because it was sent to his family home.

Aquilina said that he had kept the letters that were addressed to him but despite having left an impact on him, did not take them to the police.

“At the time, I was wrongly accused by the police [on a separate issue] and my relations with them were not serene. I am still waiting for an apology but it has not arrived yet,” he said, replying to defence lawyer Henry Antoncich’s questions.

Inspector Kurt Farrugia took the witness stand and described how the accused was arrested in November and various items were confiscated after a search at his house.

“The offensive language, the distinctive writing, particularly the way in which the letter ‘a’ was written to cross the letter ‘t’, indicated a common hand in the different letters… the anonymous writer used to sign off as ‘ex PN’ or ‘ex PN councillor’,” the inspector testified.

Farrugia said that under interrogation, the accused said that he wanted to “attack” the subject because the recipients did not share his political views.

The case continues in September.

Lawyers Henry Antonich and Joseph Calleja are defence lawyers, while Therese Comodini Cachia is appearing parte civile for the victims of the poison-pen letters.