Manuel Delia's interest in Great Siege memorial case questioned in court

Delia has argued that the clearing of the monument breached his fundamental human rights  

Lawyers questioned what interest Manuel Delia had in the monument that could justify legal proceedings
Lawyers questioned what interest Manuel Delia had in the monument that could justify legal proceedings

Constitutional proceedings filed by activist and blogger Manuel Delia against Justice Minister Owen Bonnici over the repeated clearing of candles and floral tributes to assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia from the Great Siege monument have taken a new twist.

This after Delia’s juridical interest in the case which he had personally filed against the government over the persistent dismantling of the makeshift memorial was challenged in court.

Delia is claiming that the removal of the memorial amounted to a breach of his fundamental right to express himself freely.

But now his juridical interest in the case is being questioned, with lawyers for the defendant arguing that third parties, and not Delia, had placed the items at the foot of the monument.

Hours before proceedings were due to continue this afternoon, Delia’s lawyers filed a note to declare that they had no further witnesses to summon.

But the fresh application filed by the defendants on 4 February, challenging Delia’s juridical interest caused the same lawyers to have a change of plan, seeking the court’s authorization to withdraw their earlier note.

Juridical interest is a prerequisite for the filing of legal action – it means the person filing must have a direct, legal, actual and personal stake in the outcome of the case.

It was argued that it had clearly emerged throughout the proceedings so far, that third parties, had personally placed mementos at the Great Siege monument, and not Delia himself.

The court was asked to refer to the testimony of PN MP Karol Aquilina, who described how he had purchased candles to light at the memorial as a sign of protest. Another witness, Ann DeMarco had testified as to how she visited the site on a daily basis as one of a group of protesters who replenished items left there in protest.

Delia did not form part of that group, argued the defendants.

A party in a suit had to prove he had an ‘actual and personal’ interest that existed not only when proceedings were instituted but also subsisted throughout the hearing of the case, the respondents said, saying that this did not appear to be the case here.

The First Hall of the Civil Court, presided over by Mr Justice Joseph Zammit McKeon, adjourned the case to February 19 for a decree to resolve this matter.

Lawyers Paul Borg Olivier, Jason Azzopardi, Therese Comodini Cachia and Eve Borg Costanzi are assisting Delia.

Lawyers Victoria Buttigieg and Chris Cilia are assisting the respondents.

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