MaltaToday journalist Raphael Vassallo sues Manuel Delia over mafia slur

In a blogpost, Manuel Delia alleged that Raphael Vassallo is part of ‘the mafia conspiracy that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia’

Blogger Manuel Delia has alleged that MaltaToday journalist Raphael Vassallo (inset) is part of the mafia conspiracy that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia
Blogger Manuel Delia has alleged that MaltaToday journalist Raphael Vassallo (inset) is part of the mafia conspiracy that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia

Senior MaltaToday journalist Raphael Vassallo has sued blogger Emanuel Delia for libel, over an article which suggested that Vassallo may have had a hand in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The case relates to a post, penned by Delia on October 28, in which he accuses Vassallo of “covering up for the mafia, thereby being part of it.”

Vassallo vehemently rejected the assertion.

In a statement released to the press this morning after filing the suit, Vassallo said:

“In a blogpost entitled LONG READ – 416 bis, Manuel Delia made the following assertion about me: ‘416 bis also makes specific reference to omertà, a form of tacit complicity that is used to help the masterminds of mafia crimes getting away with their crimes. This is where Raphael Vassallo comes in. Unwittingly, or perhaps because he is a part of the mafia conspiracy that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia he perpetrates the myth that arresting and punishing the triggermen resolves the crime. That is how he (and others) cover up for the mafia, thereby being part of it.’

“At this stage I will not even bother rebutting Manuel Delia’s absurd and highly defamatory allegations in my regard – though I certainly will, in court – other than to say that the above statement constitutes a malicious, deliberate and unequivocal attempt to damage my professional reputation as a journalist, on the basis of a blatant lie.”

Vassallo said Delia's comments are an act of intimidation. "Manuel Delia’s defamatory comments were also intended to discourage me from voicing my own opinion in the press, for fear of being afterwards labelled a criminal, or associated with criminality. It is a strategy to silence all other opinions apart from his own. As such, it is also an affront to freedom of expression."

Vassallo added that in face of such a calumny, he had no option but to seek redress from the law courts.

"It is not a decision I took lightly. In the 20+ years I have been writing articles in newspapers, I have never sued anyone for libel; and it was not for lack of grounds. It is because, as a member of the press, I am fully aware that I am a public figure; and public figures are (and should be) subject to a higher level of scrutiny than private individuals. There are, however, limits to what can be defined as legitimate public scrutiny.

“By gratuitously suggesting that I took any part in the (very real) conspiracy that resulted in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder – or that I am in any way helping the mafia to ‘get away with their crimes’ – Manuel Delia has clearly overstepped all reasonable limits.

“I have had to accept a lot of criticism, and tolerate a lot of invective, in the course of my career. But I cannot allow this calumny to go unanswered.”

Vassallo told MaltaToday this morning that he was rebutting Delia’s statement and was holding him responsible for what he said because he had made a very serious allegation in his regard.

Lawyers Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo are appearing for the journalist.

More in Court & Police