Court upholds Prime Minister's request for Gaffarena injuction

The request for an injuction was filed by Joseph Muscat, in his capacity as a member of parliament, and the Attorney General

Mark Gaffarena
Mark Gaffarena

A judge has granted a warrant of prohibitory injunction against businessman Mark Gaffarena, which had been requested by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and the Attorney General.

The court upheld the request filed by Muscat, in his capacity as a member of parliament.

Mr. Justice Joseph R Micallef, presiding over the First Hall of the Civil Court, handed down his decision on the application which had been filed by Muscat in his capacity as a member of parliament together with the Attorney General, prohibiting Mark and Josielle Gaffarena from transferring, under any title, the properties they had received as a result of the expropriation of 36, Old Mint Street, Valletta.

On 28 January 2015, the Commissioner of Lands had transferred four properties to Gaffarena by title of exchange. These were a property in Sliema, valued at €65,000, a portion of land in the limits of Siggiewi, valued at €165,800, a parcel of land in the limits of Qormi worth €192,810 and a parcel of land at Bahar ic-Caghaq estimated to be worth €260,000.

These properties, together with €138,890, were given to Gaffarena as compensation for the expropriation of one-quarter of a house in Old Mint Street, Valletta.

Later that year, in April, the Commissioner of Lands had repeated the process, granting Gaffarena a €70,000 parcel of land at Bahar ic-Caghaq and two plots of land outside Zebbug, worth €375,000, together with the sum of €377,500 for the expropriation of another quarter share of the same Old Mint Street property.

The prime minister and the attorney general had filed a law suit against the Gaffarenas, requesting the rescission of the two deeds last month following a report issued by the National Audit Office.

The court had been requested to prohibit the Gaffarenas from selling, giving away or transferring to third parties any of the properties they had received.

In today's judgement the court ruled that the elements required by law for the issue of the warrant of prohibitory injunction were present and granted the request, issuing the warrant.

Government reacts

In a press statement, the government welcomed the court’s decision, saying it was the first step in protecting the interests of the Maltese people.

In its decree, the court rejected the objection, that the prime minister could not open the case, raised by the defendants, saying that the prime minister is considered a member of parliament automatically and by virtue of the Constitution.

“This is the same objection raised by the Opposition before the proceedings began and the Opposition’s assertions that the case was made to be lost are similarly untrue,” the statement reads.

“The prime minister will continue the reform of the Lands Department as well as the fight against corruption.”

In a reaction, the Nationalist Party said Muscat was “living a lie” and, irrespective of what the government says, “the NAO report confirms the collusion that existed between the Office of the Prime Minister and Gaffarena”.

The Labour Party pointed out that the court’s decision proved that the opposition had been wrong in arguing that Muscat could not file the court case.

It also said that the decision confirmed that any MP, including opposition leader Simon Busuttil and shadow justice minister Jason Azzopardi, could have sought legal action.

“It is also worth noting that the line of defence brought by Gaffarena was along the lines of arguments raised by the opposition,” the PL added.