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24 Aug 2022

Edwina Brincat, Times of Malta

Malta: Court dismisses E&S Consultancy's defamation lawsuits against Matthew Caruana Galizia

"Murder of a journalist 'attack on freedom of expression' - court", 7 July 2022

A magistrates' court threw out four libel suits ... as it declared that "the murder of a journalist, more so when that murder was possibly linked to his work, constituted a manifest attack on freedom of expression”. That statement was made by Magistrate Rachel Montebello when delivering judgment in the separate, though parallel, defamation suits filed by E&S Consultancy Limited and its directors - lawyer Christian Ellul and accountant Karl Schranz - back in 2019, over a series of tweets by Matthew Caruana Galizia, with a link to a related article published by The Shift. The tweets and the publications alleged that the Maltese consultancy firm was involved in tax fraud with Marian Kocner, the prime suspect behind the murder of Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, shot dead alongside his girlfriend in February 2018... Kuciak had been investigating the suspected tax fraud by Kocner and his Maltese advisors at the time of his murder... Those publications were deemed defamatory by the company and its two officials who claimed that the allegations had negatively impacted their reputation and spelt “serious financial losses” for the group... [T]he court concluded that ... Caruana Galizia had produced “concrete proof” that his comments were an expression of opinion based on substantive facts which existed at the time...

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