[WATCH] Chris Cardona on the bachelor’s party and Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder

Economy Minister Chris Cardona had considered pulling out of politics but undeterred, he will contest the next election

Economy Minister Chris Cardona
Economy Minister Chris Cardona

Chris Cardona has denied meeting any of the three men accused of murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia outside of a professional or courtroom situation.

The Economy Minister said he had been a lawyer for one the accused but this did not mean they were his friends or that they visited each other’s’ homes.

Cardona is a lawyer and worked in the criminal field before becoming minister in 2013.

The minister, who has had to face allegations that he was seen with the men charged with Caruana Galizia’s murder, before and after the assassination, was speaking on TVM’s Xtra on Thursday night.

I was present for 10 minutes and then left. I don't remember seeing Alfred Degiorgio there Chris Cardona

Cardona admitted being at a bachelor’s party in June 2017, as reported by Italian newspaper La Repubblica, but insisted he could not remember whether Alfred Degiorgio, one of the accused, was there.

"Yes, I was there. I was present for 10 minutes and then left. I don't remember seeing him [Alfred Degiorgio] there,” Cardona said.

Asked about his relationship with the accused, Cardona asked programme host Saviour Balzan to clarify what he meant by “knowing them”.

“Does it mean they're friends of mine? Does it mean that we visit each other's homes? I was a lawyer for one of them for a while," he said.

Cardona has come under fire from members of the Caruana Galizia family and followers of the late journalist, who have tried to draw a direct link between him and the murder.

The minister has denied any such link, going as far as describing it a "ridiculous" suggestion in Parliament.

Magistrates never summoned me

On Xtra, Cardona said that of his own initiative, he volunteered information to the police by approaching Inspector Keith Arnaud, who is leading the murder investigation.

Cardona said he was making himself available to investigators and noted that magistrates Anthony Vella and Neville Camilleri never summoned him after releasing a statement to the police.

"For a time, I asked myself what I was doing in politics, because this was after all a cruel attack on my person that had repercussions on my family,” Cardona said.

But the minister remains undeterred, insisting he will contest the next general election despite the widespread expectation that he will end his political career.

"I've been a member of the Labour Party since I was 16 years old and I still have a lot to give," he said.

The brothel allegations

The minister had also come under fire by Caruana Galizia when she alleged that Cardona and his aide had visited a brothel while on official duty in Germany last year.

The two men had filed libel cases against her but these were expunged after the murder. Crucial mobile phone location data that was deposited in court as evidence, and which could have established whether Cardona was in the city of Velbert on the night in question, remains sealed with the magistrate.

Cardona told Balzan he had no qualms about allowing access to his TAP data, even though his libel cases against the late journalist have been officially dropped.

"I never objected to revealing the TAP data,” Cardona said, adding the whole brothel story had tired him out.

Cardona and his aide have always denied being at the brothel.

"The assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia was a horrible crime, possibly the worst of all, but character assassination is likewise horrible and it will stay with us for the rest of our life,” Cardona said.

He insisted that he had not dropped the libel cases against Caruana Galizia. 

"I filed for libel in the first place because just saying that Caruana Galizia's claim was a lie was not enough. I wanted to clear my name. But I never dropped the charges. It was the Caruana Galizia family's lawyers that asked for this to happen."

I was going to be attacked irrespective of my decision Chris Cardona

Cardona explained that Peter Caruana Galizia, the husband of the murdered journalist, had initially expressed his wish to stop representing his late wife in court, Cardona said. "Her children, on the other hand, wanted to carry on, but they changed their minds and joined their father. Their lawyers asked that the libel cases be dropped and the court acceded."

Cardona explained how, at the time, he had the possibility of asking the court to reinstate the libel but he had been receiving a barrage of comments and was under intense pressure, the general consensus being that he should feel shame for proceeding against a victim of a car bomb. 

"I was going to be attacked irrespective of my decision," the minister said. "I did not file for a recourse and we are now at an impasse."

Cardona reiterated that the burden of proof was with the family members of the murdered journalist and it was unfair to expect him to prove something that was untrue.