‘Somebody will commit perjury’ in Cardona Acapulco libel case, court told

Lawyers representing Daphne Caruana Galizia in a libel suit have defended their request that a court order mobile phone operators to present copies of recorded location data 

Caruana Galizia has claimed that Cardona was at a brothel while on official duty
Caruana Galizia has claimed that Cardona was at a brothel while on official duty

Blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia has defended her request that a court orders mobile phone operators to present copies of remotely recorded location data pertaining to a mobile phone belonging to minister Chris Cardona, who has sued her for libel.

Magistrate Francesco Depasquale heard both parties make verbal submissions on the request by the defence to preserve the evidence so that every applicable TAP file in the operators’ possession to be deposited in court in a sealed envelope until they testify and, before doing so, to analyse the data relating to January 30, between 5pm and 12:30am and January 31st between 2pm and 7pm – where, according to Caruana Galizia, the minister would have been inside the German brothel FKK Acapulco in Velbert, Essen.

Cardona insists that he remained in Essen for the duration of the trip where he was on government business, together with consultant Joe Gerada.

Lawyer Joe Zammit Maempel, representing Caruana Galizia, today told the court that one party “will commit perjury”. Cardona’s lawyer Pawlu Lia, together with lawyer Mark Vassallo, had already denounced the request as a “fishing expedition” in a previous sitting.

Zammit Maempel said his client had previously said she had an eyewitness, and argued that the fact the versions of both sides in the case are contradictory gave all the more reason for the preservation of the TAP file, which would contain data that could establish the location of Cardona’s phone, including timestamps of calls made and SMSs sent. TAP files are only stored for six months by the operators.

 “This is indisputable scientific proof. The versions of the two persons in this case clash. This proof will 100% show who is lying. Someone will commit perjury in this case, either one side or the other,” Zammit Maempel said.

Lawyer Antonio Ghio, who is also representing Caruana Galizia in these proceedings, said the request was not for permission to present the evidence, but to have the service provider hold onto data which would otherwise be deleted. “All we are asking for is the urgent intervention of the court so that the best evidence that exists is not lost,” the lawyer said.

Ghio argued that the defence would present their evidence at the correct stage, pointing out that the other party also had to produce evidence to sustain their insistence that the allegations were not fair comment.

He also mentioned the number of garnishee orders filed against his client, arguing it should have been Cardona and his consultant who should have requested the TAP evidence in the first place to support their denials. “This is not a fishing expedition,” Ghio said. “In this case Caruana Galizia is aware that the evidence exists and wants it to be preserved.”

In his reply, lawyer Pawlu Lia argued that Caruana Galizia had chosen to claim “fair comment” instead of putting forward facts to prove her allegations. “Time has come for society to protect public figures and to draw a line between information which is in the public interest and that which is private. The case could set a dangerous precedent.

“Sensitive data that is not relevant to a case should not be allowed. A balance must be reached between the right to privacy and the right to information. Privacy may only be cast aside when this is in the public interest and the law lays down clear instances when this applies.”

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