‘I told Gonzi to stop the attacks from Caruana Galizia, and they stopped’

Former PN minister John Dalli says in 2008, he had warned Lawrence Gonzi that if the attacks against him would not stop, his government would fall

John Dalli said that after telling Gonzi he suspected Richard Cachia Caruana was furnishing his critics with information, Daphne Caruana Galizia called him on the phone.
John Dalli said that after telling Gonzi he suspected Richard Cachia Caruana was furnishing his critics with information, Daphne Caruana Galizia called him on the phone.

Former Nationalist minister John Dalli has suggested in court that personal attacks against him from blogger and Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia had stopped the week he warned prime minister Lawrence Gonzi in 2008 that his government would not last long in power if Gonzi did not put an end to the attacks.

Dalli was summoned as a witness in a defamation case filed by Richard Cachia Caruana, the former permanent representative to the EU, against Saviour Balzan, the managing editor of MaltaToday, over the latter’s claims that Cachia Caruana was behind a dirty media campaign  against PN critics of the Gonzi administration.

Balzan's defence lawyer Toni Abela asked John Dalli what were the kind of attacks when he was a cabinet minister.  "I was attacked by both political parties, but in the time of Fenech Adami dirty tactics from within my party were under control, when Gonzi took over the whole thing went beserk and most of the relentless attacks were from within."

He reminisced that in 2008 after an attack on Daphne Caruana Galizia's blog linking him to allegations about his brother, he had taken the step to take Lawrence Gonzi aside during a Mellieha political conference and warn him that if the attacks did not stop at once he would bring down the government. "I told him that I would go through another period of false and invented allegations."

He said that soon after Caruana Galizia had phoned him up and insisted with him that the articles were not being egged on by Cachia Caruana. He said that he was immensely surprised that a conversation he had with the prime minister led Cachia Caruana to inform Daphne Caruana Galizia about his concerns were relayed to her by Cachia Caruana. Dalli suggested that this was proof of the intimacy of Caruana Galizia and Cachia Caruana.

The former commissioner said in relation to his resignation in 2004 over fabricated accusations of bribery, " Steve Mallia, a Timesof Malta journalist, had said that he had used information provided by Richard Cachia Caruana."

"I was asked to resign from my ministerial post when Gonzi told me he could not have a minister under investigation, It turned out that the report was a fabrication but I still vilified by the same posse of journalists,” Dalli said.  He went on to say that referring to the kickback allegations forwarded to Gonzi were by  investigator and former police sergeant Joe Zahra – at the time, a collaborator in Lou Bondì’s Bondiplus.

He said that from information he had gathered, prime suspects of these attacks were Times journalists Ivan Camilleri and Steve Mallia, Daphne Caruana Galizia, and Bondiplus presenter Lou Bondì. “After examining the way the attacks took place, it resulted that the attacks were all co-ordinated."

Dalli claimed that he had been repeatedly warning Gonzi that the attacks against him and other PN members, the government would fall. “In reality this is exactly what happened,” Dalli said of the fate of the Gonzi administration.

In a swipe at Caruana Galizia, Dalli insisted that her much vaunted “network of spies” were intolerable in a democratic society. “Recently she published an article saying that I was at my granddaughter’s Holy Communion mass. The story was of no particular importance, but by using this psychological warfare, it sends out the message that I am being followed and harassed,” Dalli said. 

At one point, Dalli recalled that when Gonzi had asked him to become EU commissioner he had at first refused, stating that he preferred staying on as health minister in Malta. Yet, Gonzi had told him that if he did not accept he would have offered the EU post to Cachia Caruana.

Very soon after Dalli accepted. “Strangely,” Dalli told the court, Cachia Caruana had at a later stage informed him that he had suggested his name to Gonzi.

The case is being heard infront of Magistrate Francesco Depasquale.

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