Rosianne Cutajar to testify next month in libel case against Mark Camilleri

The libel case that Rosianne Cutajar filed against author Mark Camilleri continued on Tuesday with the defendant’s lawyer filing documentation to support the claim that the MP was bribed by Yorgen Fenech

Independent MP Rosianne Cutajar (left) and author Mark Camilleri
Independent MP Rosianne Cutajar (left) and author Mark Camilleri

Rosianne Cutajar is expected to testify next month in the ongoing libel case she filed against author Mark Camilleri, the court was told on Tuesday.

Cutajar resigned from the Labour Party parliamentary group yesterday but is staying on as an independent MP.

Cutajar had filed for libel over a Facebook post of Camilleri’s, in which he alleged that the MP had accepted payment from Fenech in return for defending him from corruption allegations while criticising the investigative work carried out by Daphne Caruana Galizia. Fenech is accused of having organised Caruana Galizia’s murder.

The post repeated a claim that Camilleri had made in his book A Rent-seeker’s Paradise, in which he stated that Fenech had been involved in an intimate relationship with Cutajar.

Camilleri bolstered this allegation when he published WhatsApp chats between the MP and Fenech, which indicate that there was, in fact, a sexual relationship between them.

Replying to a question from presiding magistrate Rachel Montebello, Camilleri's lawyer, Joseph Mizzi, replied that Madam Justice Edwina Grima had abstained from dealing with, and had ultimately rejected, his request to allow the exhibition of the chats in the libel case. 

Mizzi asked that the plaintiff, Cutajar, be called to the witness stand in the next sitting.

He added that Camilleri also wished to testify, through video conferencing, despite having released an affidavit. Camilleri had been in Malta on the date of the last sitting which had been adjourned, explained the lawyer, and had therefore filed a short affidavit to exhibit the documents which he had in his possession.

“The affidavit is one page long, where he says he is exhibitng the chats, which were obtained from a source,” the lawyer said. 

Lawyer Edward Gatt, for Cutajar, objected to Camilleri’s request to testify via video conferencing. “Even if it is allowed, it is a breach of good order. This is because the Criminal Court, precisely because of the publication of documents in contravention of its orders, there is an order…for the police to investigate and charge him for this…In upholding the request, we would be assisting him in evading the order given by the Criminal Court,” suggested the MP’s lawyer.

Mizzi replied that at present there were no criminal proceedings against Camilleri over this alleged breach and should they be filed in future, they will be contested.

Camilleri would be in Malta in October to attend a scheduled sitting in the ongoing separate criminal proceedings filed against him at Cutajar’s request, over Camilleri’s Facebook promise to become her “worst nightmare” if she refused to withdraw this libel case, said the lawyer.

The court asked Mizzi to disclose which country Camilleri was currently in. “An EU member state,” was as far as his lawyer was prepared to specify in open court. The court informed the lawyer that unless he told it his location, his request would not be upheld. The defence said it would be filing an application, requesting permission to allow Camilleri to testify remotely, which would also contain the requested information.

Gatt told the court that his client was currently six months pregnant and so having Camilleri testify in October would potentially be a workable option.

Meanwhile, documents supporting Camilleri’s claim that Cutajar was bribed by Yorgen Fenech were filed in court.

Lawyer Joseph Mizzi exhibited a 2021 report by the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, a report published in April that year by Council of Europe, a MaltaToday article, Rosianne Cutajar Called To Answer For Conflict Of Interest In PACE Inquiry, extracts of her address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in 2019, as well as Camilleri’s affidavit together with supporting documents.

The case was adjourned to next month for Rosianne Cutajar to testify. 

Lawyers Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo are assisting Rosianne Cutajar. Lawyer Joseph Mizzi is representing Mark Camilleri.