Widow of notary Ivan Barbara drops Facebook defamation case after apology

Marthese Mussett had posted a series of comments about the widow on a Facebook group, accusing her of having stolen money

A defamation case filed by the widow of deceased notary Ivan Barbara, over Facebook comments suggesting that she deserved imprisonment, has been ceded in view of the poster’s public apology and retraction.

Rosanne Barbara Zarb had filed the case against Marthese Mussett over posts and comments uploaded by Mussett on the Facebook group Victims of Notary Ivan Barbara and Rosanne Barbara Zarb Court updates, which had been set up to assist the notary’s clients after his death from COVID-19 in India last April. 

Barbara Zarb is the subject of a lawsuit filed by several of her late husband’s clients who are seeking to recover a total of approximately €165,000, representing deposits entrusted to the notary during promise of sale agreements. The widow is arguing that she had not accepted her husband’s inheritance and therefore had nothing to answer for. 

But after news of the inheritance issue hit the headlines, several clients of the notary had made inquiries with government departments to check whether tax they had paid on property contracts had been received. They were informed that no payment had been received, meaning that their contracts were never registered, also necessitating them to pay the same tax that they had already paid Barbara to settle.

It was in this context that Mussett had posted a series of comments about the widow on the group’s page, accusing the notary’s widow of having stolen the money and that she deserved to go to jail for this. 

Barbara Zarb later sued Mussett for defamation on the basis of these comments.. 

In a recent sitting, the lawyers for the parties informed Magistrate Rachel Montebello that an amicable settlement to the dispute was a possibility. 

Subsequently Mussett agreed to make a public apology to Barbara Zarb, together with a declaration to this effect posted on the Facebook page. 

In that post, Mussett also declared that she had no relation with the widow or her deceased husband whatsoever and that her opinions about Barbara Zarb were solely based on what she had read on social media

“For that reason, I withdraw unconditionally all words said in her regard,” the woman declared.

Mussett also bound herself to pay the costs of the lawsuit. 

In view of the defendant’s publication and declarations, Barbara Zarb formally ceded the case.

Lawyers Pawlu Lia and Phyllis Aquilina assisted Barbara Zarb. Lawyer David Bonello appeared for Mussett.