Georg Sapiano: ‘Never once did I see Adrian lift a hand in anger’

Adrian Delia’s former business partner Georg Sapiano says forcing resignation over unproven allegation would serve the agenda of PN leader’s adversaries

Adrian Delia and Nickie Vella de Fremeaux at a PN mass meeting on 20 September
Adrian Delia and Nickie Vella de Fremeaux at a PN mass meeting on 20 September

The embattled leader of the Opposition has found public support from his business partner and former PN candidate Georg Sapiano, after allegations of domestic violence emerged against Adrian Delia.

Sapiano, with whom Delia built the legal firm Aequitas Legal, said he never saw Delia “lift a hand in anger” and that the allegations, if unproven, would have served the “agenda of his adversaries, but not of democracy.”

Delia faced the allegations from his spouse Nickie Vella de Fremeaux, in a counter-reply she filed to his urgent request to a court on Christmas eve, to be granted access to see his children. The court gave short shrift to Vella de Fremeaux’s allegations of domestic violence, allowing Delia three days to see his children under the supervision of his in-laws.

READ MORE Adrian Delia says he will find those using personal troubles to undermine his leadership

But Sapiano hit at out at critics of Delia who have called for his resignation.

“You could argue that he should resign because his hands are now full and his eye no longer on the ball. If you do, then you would be establishing a pretty unprecedented norm because tons of politicians around the world have held office whilst divorcing.

“But his critics do not, in the main, employ that argument: instead they say that somebody accused of domestic violence should quit purely because that allegation has been made, and they pay no regard to due process and fair trial. What if the allegations turn out to be false? His resignation would have served the agenda of his adversaries, but not of our democracy.”

Sapiano said that while he could not say what had happened in the marriage, he described his purpose as to “bear witness to the character”.

“I have lived with Adrian Delia since we were boys. When our tempers frayed we raised our voices. Never once did I see him lift a hand in anger. I know that this, on its own, does not refute the allegations because what happens in an office is not what can happen in a home. But when Xarabank went to his house after his election, all his family were interviewed and all spoke freely. None of these allegations emerged.”

Adrian Delia has reacted to what he said were “malicious allegations on social media”, by saying he would refrain from any comment due to a court ban on public commentary to protect the wellbeing of his children.

The allegations were made known on Christmas Day in a photograph of a leaked excerpt of Nickie Vella de Fremeaux’s counter-reply to Delia’s request to see their five children, that was widely circulated on WhatsApp, along with a recording of an alleged argument in which Delia can be heard raising his voice.

In what is marked as paragraph four of the entire judicial writ, Vella de Fremeaux alleges that Delia had been violent and abusive towards several of his children, who had also “witnessed their father beating their mother.” 

In one case, he was said to have “thrown [name] to the floor, kicked and smacked” the child; another child was said to have been abusively called “fat” and “good for nothing”, another allegedly “forced to eat dog food one time”, and another child “belted once”. 

It is unclear whether she had ever filed criminal complaints alleging domestic violence in the past, after listing these allegations in her court writ to counter Delia’s request. The couple have been married for 17 years. 

One of the people who commented on Delia’s Facebook post happened to be his brother-in-law Michael Vella de Fremeaux, who denounced the media for having exploited the private situation. “You continue to have my support and that of my family, in this very difficult time,” he said.