Caruana Galizia family wants criminal investigation into Fenech lawyers’ press bribe

Fenech lawyers on press bribe: ‘prudent to offer remuneration for services’

Gianluca Caruana Curran (left) with Yorgen Fenech. (C) Times Of Malta
Gianluca Caruana Curran (left) with Yorgen Fenech. (C) Times Of Malta

The heirs of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia have filed a court application demanding a police and magisterial investigation into the allegation that the defence team of Yorgen Fenech, the alleged mastermind of  the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination, offered a Times journalist a cash bribe.

The application filed this morning by lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia, on behalf of the Caruana Galizia family, asks that the fact that Yorgen Fenech has been caught attempting to undermine the correct administration of justice, be preserved in the records of the proceedings.

The family also asked the court to order the Commissioner of Police to immediately begin a criminal investigation and inquiry to avoid the tampering of evidence. The Commissioner of Police was also requested to “take all opportune criminal steps against every perpetrator, intermediary and accomplice in this crime.”

The Caruana Galizia family said the affair was “shocking” and that it directly impinged the administration of justice in the sensitive case.

Earlier in the day, the defence team of Yorgen Fenech doubled down on their denial that they offered a Times journalist a cash bribe.

Gianluca Caruana Curran is slated for an investigation by the Chamber of Advocates after Ivan Martin reported being offered some €1,000 or “two to four €500 notes” after a 20 minute meeting with the lawyer and his colleague Charles Mercieca.

But in a statement to the press on Wednesday morning, the two lawyers “strongly denied” the accusations of impropriety, and instead suggested Caruana Curran considered it “prudent or fair to offer to remunerate Mr Martin for his services.”

The lawyers said Caruana Curran “did not spontaneously offer” the journalist money but “responding, as the defence must, to an offer of help in relation to preparing Mr. Fenech’s defence.”

The lawyers accused the journalist of “posing as an investigator interested in helping our client (outside his job with the Times) by way of investigative services, as well as sources and information.”

They also claimed they were “assured that these services would help to demonstrate our client’s innocence.”

“Naturally, we did not expect him (or anyone else offering similar professional services) to assist without payment. We regret that Mr Martin has exploited our trust, engaged in such dishonest subterfuge and violated essential journalistic ethics only to obtain a story that is malicious and untrue.”

Ivan Martin said he was first approached by Charles Mercieca to meet to discuss the case. He has denied telling the lawyers that “the Times was totally under the control of the Caruana Galizia family”.

The lawyers said they had received an unsolicited draft of an article alleging corruption by the ex-commissioner Lawrence Cutajar. Martin said the text  was sent to confirm details of information which Fenech’s legal team had provided during a previous meeting.

The Times of Malta said it was clear that Martin describes himself online as a ‘Times of Malta reporter’ and Fenech’s legal team has itself linked meeting Martin to Times of Malta reporting. “Times of Malta does not accept payment for news stories and Martin acted correctly by immediately informing his news editor about Caruana Curran’s offer of cash.”

In a statement, the Times said this was the second meeting between Martin and the lawyers, the first being at the lawyers’ office on 30 October. “Ivan Martin informed his editors about both meetings and kept them posted about developments.”

The newspaper said that Caruana Curran has gone from saying that he had “never dealt with journalists before” and now claimed Martin acted as a private investigator. “At no point in his conversation did Ivan Martin indicate he was an investigator, a claim which came a day after the story was published. We still find it strange how criminal lawyers just hand over €500 notes at the end of a meeting to someone, without even expecting a receipt.”

The Times said it made no allegations of impropriety but simply stated the facts. “Times of Malta welcomes reports that the police and the Chamber of Advocates are looking into this issue.”

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