Engerer did not inform Labour of pending court case

Appeals judge said that attempt to further vilify former boyfriend by exhibiting pen drive with more compromising footage, was proof of Engerer’s threat to make victim withdraw his criminal complaint

Cyrus Engerer (middle row, second from right): “Every step I took was always discussed with the Prime Minister first and foremost”
Cyrus Engerer (middle row, second from right): “Every step I took was always discussed with the Prime Minister first and foremost”

Former Labour candidate Cyrus Engerer did not inform the Labour Party of his pending court case prior to being selected as a candidate for next week’s European Parliament election.

All Labour candidates were vetted by an internal commission, which ultimately recommended their approval by the party’s executive.

However, MaltaToday is informed that Engerer failed to inform the commission of the pending appeal filed by the Attorney General in June 2013.

Asked to confirm this, Labour Party president Daniel Micallef told MaltaToday; “After being acquitted by the courts in 2013, Cyrus Engerer immediately resigned from his candidature following the sentence handed by the Criminal Appeals court a few days ago.”

Without confirming whether Engerer failed to inform the party, Micallef added: “the function of the Commission is an internal one, and while a lot has been said about the case, bottom line remains that Engerer assumed full responsibility for his actions”.

Contacted by this newspaper, Engerer said that the pending court case “was public knowledge, following the acquittal from the court of first instance”.

Yet, when asked whether anyone within the party knew about the pending appeal, which was lodged by the Attorney General under the new Labour government, Engerer said that “every step I took within the Labour Party was always discussed with the Prime Minister first and foremost, including the decision for my nomination to the elections as well as the decision not to contest the European Parliament elections”.

Last week, Engerer withdrew from the European Parliament elections race after a court of appeal convicted him to a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years. Initially, he was acquitted of keeping and circulating pornographic images of his former partner, and of computer misuse, however the court of appeal overturned the decision and found him guilty a fortnight before the elections.

The charges were filed by his former boyfriend in 2010, when Engerer was a local councillor for the PN in Sliema – but the party then did not take disciplinary steps against him, and instead supported him to succeed Joanna Gonzi as deputy mayor of Sliema council when she succeeded PN mayor Nikki Dimech, who was impeached over a criminal investigation on misappropriation of funds.

Engerer later defected to Labour in the summer of 2011 in protest at Lawrence Gonzi’s opposition to divorce legislation, and the actual criminal charges on the 2009 report were issued a few days after ‘crossing the Rubicon’.

The case

The case goes back to January 2010, when Engerer’s former boyfriend Marvic Camilleri filed a police report after nude images of him were stolen from his computer and circulated via e-mail to his employers and friends.

Camilleri, who back then had not yet come out as gay, suspected this was the vindictive action of Engerer, who back then was a PN councillor in Sliema.

The police only filed charges in court five months later, following a police investigation involving the Cyber Crime Unit.

The charges were filed just 10 days after Engerer defected from the PN to join Labour in July 2011, following former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi’s decision to vote against the divorce bill in Parliament, raising suspicion that police action may have been politically motivated.

These claims had been vociferously denied by the PN government, and an inquiry was launched. However, Camilleri has since publicly forgiven Engerer, and the two remain friends.

In 2013, the court ruled that Engerer had sent the pictures to Camilleri’s employers and colleagues, but the evidence was circumstantial and Engerer was acquitted.

However, this month the court of appeal overturned the decision and handed Engerer a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years.

In a 17-page appeals court judgment, Judge Michael Mallia said court could not ignore Engerer’s threats to the victim to stop the case to prevent other shameful things from being uncovered.

The threat was apparently carried out right at the end of the compilation of evidence, when Engerer’s defence lawyer exhibited a pen drive, which allegedly included video footage that potentially embarrassed the victim even more. Despite the protestations of the prosecution, the first court accepted this new ‘evidence’.

“This shows just how low Engerer had stooped to portray the victim in bad light and make him withdraw his criminal complaint. Fortunately, he failed to commit such a deceitful plan,” Judge Michael Mallia said in his decision to overturn the acquittal.

Apart from concluding that Engerer was guilty of keeping or circulating pornography and of having maliciously used a computer to copy data, the court said there was enough proof to show that Engerer was responsible for the dissemination of photographs on the internet which were detrimental to the victim.