Judge turns down AG’s request over Manuel Delia interest in Caruana Galizia memorial case

The court declined to rule separately on a matter concerning Delia's juridical interest, which had been raised by the Attorney General, and ordered the continuation of the collection of evidence concerning the claims and the defences

The memorial to slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, at the foot of the Great Siege Monument in Valletta
The memorial to slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, at the foot of the Great Siege Monument in Valletta

The judge hearing the case filed by civil society activist Manuel Delia, over the persistent dismantling of a makeshift memorial to Daphne Caruana Galizia outside the courts, has declined to rule separately on the issue of Delia’s juridical interest, a matter which had been raised by the Attorney General’s office.

In its decree, the court ordered the collection of evidence for matters concerning the case to proceed.

Delia had filed the case against Justice Minister Owen Bonnici, claiming that the removal of the memorial amounted to a breach of his fundamental right to freedom of expression. But lawyers for the defendant argued that third parties, and not Delia, had placed the items at the foot of the monument, thereby bringing his juridical interest into question.

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

In a decree handed down earlier this afternoon after hearing submissions from both sides on the issue, Judge Joseph Zammit Mackeon ruled that, taking into account the broader picture of the proceedings to date, it would not be “convenient, practical and opportune” to limit “every bit of evidence from today onwards or pass all the evidence exhibited to date through an intricate filter designed to pass sentence limited to the alleged lack of juridical interest of the applicant.”

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The administration of justice in such a case as this required the continuation and completion of the collection of evidence about all the issues which emerge from the written submissions, said the court.

As it decided to give a single judgment which would deal with all the aspects of the case and not go down the route of issuing a partial judgment on juridical interest as requested by the defendants, the court said the decision would not be prejudicial to any of the parties, in view of the speed at which the case was proceeding.

Dismissing the request, the court ordered the continuation of the collection of evidence about both the claims and the defences.

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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