Mintoff’s Delimara country house sold for €250,000

Mintoff family reaped €830,000 in compensation from government after construction of Delimara power station outside country home

Dom Mintoff’s residence in Delimara, known as l-Gharix, has been sold to Silvio Cassar, a 33-year old self employed businessman from Fgura, for the sum of €250,000 – substantially less than the compensation amount awarded by a court to Mintoff for a case he brought against the government for constructing the Delimara power station close to l-Gharix.

L-Gharix, as the former residence of the mercurial late Prime Minister, is a historical landmark where Mintoff not only entertained his posse of personal friends, who used to accompany him in his daily dips at St Peter’s pool, but also hosted foreign dignitaries.

The latter included Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was killed by an IRA bomb in 1979, and who was Mintoff’s guest for lunch in 1973 at the height of the then Labour Prime Minister’s standoff with Britain.

Cassar, who bought l-Gharix from Mintoff’s daughters, Yana Mintoff Bland and Anne McKenna, was tight lipped when contacted by MaltaToday.

When asked about his plans for the building, Cassar replied that it is “too early” to make any declaration.

Last week Cassar presented a planning application to carry out internal alterations at l-Gharix, make additions on the second floor, replace roofs and construct a swimming pool in the grounds of the building.

Architect and Labour MP Charles Buhagiar filed the application. The public deed for the sale of 4,476 square metres of land was registered in August. 

In 2006 the constitutional court confirmed the compensation amount of Lm360,000  (€838,574) awarded by the first court in 2004 for damages caused by the power station which was built by the Fenech Adami administration virtually on the doorstep of l-Gharix. The court ordered that the amount of Lm212,950, that Mr Mintoff had already been paid, be deducted from the compensation amount.

Mintoff had appealed the 2004 decision, claiming that he should have been awarded more compensation and that the first court should have ordered the government to provide him with an alternative residence.

The court application had been filed against the government by Mintoff in 1994, on the ground that the building of the power station so close to his house breached his fundamental human rights.

Mintoff had struck a deal with the Sant government in 1998 which included a tract of land at Fawwara to be developed into a residence, valued at Lm230,000 (€535,755) and financial compensation of Lm128,000 (€298,159) together with a handout of Lm4,950 (€11,530) for structural damage caused by the construction of the Delimara power station.

However, the agreement fell through after the government failed to obtain permission to develop the site.

History in the making

A declassified British government file reveals that in March, 1973, Lord Mountbatten, Queen Elizabeth’s cousin, was entertained to lunch in Mintoff’s l-Gharix residence in Delimara.

Admiral Templeton Cotill, who took Lord Mountbatten to the informal lunch, reported that “Lord Mountbatten really enjoyed his lunch. I might add that although the food was slightly better than usual the wine was, if possible, even more undrinkable, but Lord Mountbatten surmounted that hurdle without remark”.

The High Commissioner to Malta at the time, John Moreton, wrote in favourable terms, saying this lunch was “further proof that Mr Mintoff is a man for whom personal relationships are very important.”

In his memoirs, Archbishop Emeritus Guzeppi Mercieca reveals how Mintoff started inviting him to regular private meals at his residence in Delimara, l-Gharix, which helped heal the rift between church and state in the mid-1980s.

And former Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami also revealed that in 1997 Mintoff had asked to see Dr Fenech Adami at his Delimara home. During the meeting Mintoff told Fenech Adami that he was prepared to bring down Alfred Sant’s government – which he in fact went on to do in 1998 by voting against Sant’s one-seat majority government.

In an article in MaltaToday, historian Henry Frendo recalled anecdotes recounted by former President Guido de Marco relating to Mintoff’s farming activities at l-Gharix.

One was when De Marco was at home at San Pawl tat-Targa and he heard Mintoff saying loudly, ‘Gwid, gibtlek l-gheneb!’ (Guido, I have brought you the grapes).

Mintoff also had a goat – “In a very recent interview for a book, which I had with Eddie Fenech Adami, it transpired that the milk being served to him with the coffee at l-Gharix was from Mintoff’s goat: ‘minn taghna dan, minn taghna’ (‘this is our own produce, our own).

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