Court berates Libyan for filing 'close to vexatious' proceedings

Tarek Mohammed Ibrahim had married a Maltese woman in 1998 but this marriage was annulled after the courts held that the union was one of convenience

The Constitutional Court has rebuked a Libyan man stripped of Maltese citizenship following the annulment of his marriage of convenience, saying he had filed court proceedings simply to delay the inevitable.

Tarek Mohammed Ibrahim had married a Maltese woman in 1998 but this marriage was annulled after the courts held that the union was one of convenience, intended simply to allow him to obtain Maltese citizenship. He was subsequently stripped of Maltese citizenship in 2005.

Ibrahim filed Constitutional proceedings against the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Justice and Internal Affairs and the Director of the Department of Citizenship and Expatriate Affairs, contending that this was in breach of his daughter's fundamental human right to family life. It also prejudiced his rights as a “full citizen of Europe,” he claimed.

Amongst the arguments raised by the defendants was that the granting and revocation of Maltese citizenship was not regulated by any law.

But the Constitutional court had already turned down his claim in 2012, as the claim was not of a constitutional nature, holding that citizenship disputes are decided by the State, not the courts. In October 2015, he had filed another application to the court, asking that the 2012 decree be revoked as it was “incorrect.”

In its judgement, handed down yesterday the Constitutional Court, presided by Judges Giannino Caruana Demajo, Tonio Mallia and Noel Cuschieri, pointed out that the legal situation surrounding the case had remained the same and that this was grounds enough for it to dismiss the lawsuit. However “for completeness sake,” it repeated the reasoning of the first court.

The case, it said, dealt with an alleged breach of a right under the European Convention, due to the implementation of EU law at the local level. Disputes about citizenship, however, remained the sole competence of the Member States and not the Union.

Dismissing the case, the court held that the dispute was about whether the implementation of domestic law breached a right under the Convention and not about the interpretation or application of EU law. Had the dispute been as to whether the revocation of citizenship was in breach of EU law, it should have been filed before the Civil Court in its ordinary jurisdiction and not the Constitutional Court as the issue at hand was not one of interpretation of Constitutional or EU law.

The court also rebuked the plaintiff, described his filing of this case as “very close to vexatious, intended solely to impede proceedings and cause unnecessary delays.”